The De Paepe-Willems Award honors two former Presidents of PIANC. Robert De Paepe was President of PIANC for 17 years, from 1982 to 1999. And Professor Gustave Willems was President of PIANC for 26 years, from 1956 to 1982. The first Willems Award was made in 1985 during the 100th Anniversary of the association. In 2002, the award was changed to the De Paepe-Willems Award following the merge of the Foundation Robert De Paepe into the Willems Award. The award is given for the most outstanding technical paper prepared on an aspect of waterborne transport, including policy, management, design, economics, integration with other transport modes, technology, safety, public involvement, and the environment. The competition is open to anyone 40 years of age or younger.
Abstracts and technical submissions are due in the fall of each year to PIANC International. The winner receives a €4,000 check, an expense-paid trip to the PIANC International General Assembly, and an individual three-year free membership in PIANC. Second and third places are also awarded.