One day in Europe: Spain

One Day in Europe is a feature of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we travel to one of EFG’s national membership associations and discover their main activities and challenges. In July we visited the  Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists (ICOG – Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Geólogos).

ICOG was created by a Royal Decree approved by the Spanish government in December 1978 as a public right corporation. It is the only legitimated corporation to defend and represent the geologist´s profession in Spain. During its almost 40 years of existence, the ICOG has assisted in building a common professional view in Europe, being one of the founder members of the European Federation of Geologists in 1981.

ICOG has also helped to disseminate the professional values of ethics and geoethics between working geologists. Our close connection with geology faculties has also been a permanent issue for the ICOG, in order to explain to recent graduates and students ourcollective professional project, with the advantages of belonging to the organisations, including the multi-benefits of the new “0-Fee” program. At the same time, ICOG has repeatedly insisted in promoting geological knowledge among the members of our society by publishing outreach science books and sending the message through the media about the importance of geology in our everyday life.

The ICOG is also member of the Professional Union – a confederation of Spanish professional associations – which is trying to demonstrate the value of professions and their contribution for the society where it has had an active position in this institution to request social and legal recognition for our professionals in a global professional framework.

ICOG_staff

ICOG’s staff team

Former EFG Vice-President and member of the ICOG Board Nieves Sánchez answered our questions:

How many members does the ICOG represent? – Currently ICOG has about 2800 members, our sister organisation in Andalusia has around 400, so the total registered national professional geologists is around 3000, but we estimate that in Spain there are about 4500 geologists.

How did your membership evolve over the past few years and in which field of geology do your members mainly work? – ICOG members work mainly in the construction sector (infrastructures, buildings and others). The second most relevant group works to assess and develop energy and environmental projects. Public institutions, including education, universities and administration, are the third most important group.

How is your association structured? – The General Assembly, constituted by all members, is the main governing body of the organisation. It is convened, at least, once a year. The Board, composed by a President, two Vice presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Vice Secretary and eight members, is the executive body of the organisation.

ICOG_Board

ICOG’s current Board

The ICOG has currently regional branches with offices and staffing in Aragón, Basque Country and Catalonia to better deal with our geologists living in the different Autonomic Regions, and to work with more resources with other administrations and institutions. In the rest of Autonomic Regions, instead of branches the Board has appointed individual official delegates.

What was your association’s main achievement in 2015? – We think that the significant increase of European Geologists has been an important achievement. Also the international development of on-line training courses can be considered another important achievement. ICOG participation in the EFG research projects is also a considerable achievement. ICOG has also achieved several court cases successes to include geologists in the official staff selection processes in different public Administrations.

What is your focus for 2016? – After the recent elections, the new president has proposed 24 measures to develop in his term, from increasing  membership and services by explaining better the advantages to be a member, to develop a Strategic Plan, to increase the member’s participation in the association by developing the electronic vote, to elaborate an annual audit of the accounts, to democratize the Board, to supress the current remuneration system, to make a new staffing planning, and a long list of new proposals which also include to continue and strengthen the relations with the EFG.

What are currently the main challenges for your association? –

  • Increase the real mobility of the professional geologists along all Europe.
  • Increase society´s knowledge about geologists and the value they bring.
  • Modernize our structures and internal systems to increase the participation of our members and to democratize the decisions (electronic vote).

Do you promote geology towards society? If yes, how? – We are working in different technical groups about geothermal energy, fracking, environment protection, mineral resources and other issues, trying to connect with other professions and contributing to educate the population to understand the benefits of some new developments. At the same time, we have a contract with a media communication´s company to disseminate news about our activities and our opinions. This policy helps to be present in the public debate.

Do you have any particular activities to attract young geoscientists? – We do every year a presentation of the ICOG at several faculties, explaining to the students of the last course what we do and how can we help them. Now we are thinking in a possible new title to recognize the academic studies as an official card to help them for the mobility between European countries. In other geographic areas as Iberoamerican countries, we are thinking to sign agreements between associations to establish mutual recognitions.

Are you in contact with decision makers at national level? If yes, in which field? – We have recently sent to all political parties a program entitled “25 proposals for a National Geological Policy” which cover all the geological issues we propose. This has been done before the elections, and, after that we will continue inviting some politicians to come to our Annual Christmas event. In general we keep a continual contact with the various political parties and public institutions to send them our suggestions and proposals in relation with geological related issues and events.

How would you define your association’s relation with EFG? – In general terms it is a good relation and we participate actively in the councils and other meetings.

What would you like the other EFG membership associations to know about ICOG? – Although we regularly inform our EFG colleagues of our activities and initiatives, in order to know in detail our activities they can visit our web page www.icog.es. We publish all our meetings and events, broadcasting them through streaming and we are open to the participation in our training, debates or meetings with any other association.

Is there any experience/good practice from ICOG that you would like to share with other associations? – The contract we have with Europa Press to disseminate news and press releases about ICOG and to share ICOG´s opinion about some issues, has changed the social perception of the geologists. This is an important point and the EFG should use a similar system to spread the geologists work. The liability insurance we have, connected to the certification of projects is something important for professionals who need insurance protection in case of professional problems. We have already suggested to the EFG to use ICOG`s insurance to cover liability in all Europe.

What would you like to know about the other EFG membership associations? – From the professional ethics point of view, it could be interesting to make a benchmarking analysis with all EFG members.

In your opinion, how could EFG improve the knowledge about the activities carried out by other associations? – I think it would be interesting to create a Linkedin group between all professional geologists in Europe to share news, comments, documents, developments… It should be a continuous debate, putting in common all the ideas that anyone can consider of interest for the group.

More information about the ICOG: http://www.icog.es/

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