During the last century, the rapid development of geotechnics allowed the design, construction, and control of many structures (foundations, retaining walls, tunnels, dams, slope control works, etc.) in accordance with rigorous rules and national/international standards. Indeed, Geotechnics can be considered a source of consistent answers and procedures to ensure better safety and sustainable development dealing with problems beyond site-specific engineering challenges, such as those involving urban planning and land use management.
This paper, starting from the origin of geotechnics, proposes an approach to these broader issues by providing practical examples of slope stability and subsidence analyses that, to be properly managed, call for a deep understanding of the groundwater regime. Particular attention is paid to both the technology, which allows achievements not conceivable just a few years ago, and the current technical standards that must be updated to facilitate the confident use of new approaches and methods.