One Day in Europe: Switzerland
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 December we visited Switzerland.
The Swiss Association of Geologists CHGEOL unites more than 500 Geologists from private companies, industry, universities and governmental authorities. The organization promotes high quality work of geologists in Switzerland and aims to demonstrate the significance of the geological profession as well as geology itself to society. CHGEOL fosters the exchange of professional experience among its members, mediates experts by means of its professional register, drafts opinions and participates in elaborating draft laws and standards. CHGEOL’s monthly newsletter provides members with the latest information from professional life, and the website features the most comprehensive job market and calendar of events for the Swiss geology community. Within its network, CHGEOL maintains contacts to several professional and scientific associations in Switzerland.
As a specialist association of the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) it collaborates with the most important planners of the country. At international level, CHGEOL is member of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG) and in Switzerland responsible for granting the title European Geologist (EurGeol). This title recognizes the ability to deliver high quality services within the profession of geology and qualifies its owners to work abroad. CHGEOLcert is the Swiss equivalent quality label issued by the association.
Photo: CHGEOL Board
EFG delegate Jean-Bernard Joye answered our questions:
How many members does the CHGEOL represent? How did your membership evolve over the past few years and in which field of geology do your members mainly work? – Our members come from all fields of geology and geoscience. The biggest group at present work in small and medium sized consulting companies in the fields of hydro-, environmental and engineering geology.
How is your association structured? – The general assembly, constituted by all full members is the main governing body of the organization. It is convened once a year. The board is elected by the general assembly for a period of 3 years renewable and is constituted by a president, a vice president, a treasurer and 8 members. The leading activities are divided into four pillars: (1) politic and strategy, (2) Quality, market and law, (3) information and research, (4) communication and relationship.
What was your association’s main achievement in 2016? – In 2016 the board worked out to set up the new strategy accepted by the general assembly in 2014 and to define the role and responsibility for each four pillar.
What are currently the main challenges for your association? – The main challenge is to attract new members and to propose adequate services to our members to keep them.
Do you promote geology towards society? If yes, how? – The Geology for Society is fully accessible on our CHGeol website in French and German.
In collaboration with the «Platform Geosciences» CHGEOL initiated the project «Erlebnis Geologie» which aims to inform the society in general about the relevance of geology in everyday life. About two hundred so-called GeoEvents are organised every year by geoscientists throughout the country on popular issues of earth sciences (http://www.erlebnis-geologie.ch).
Do you have any particular activities to attract young geoscientists? – For CHGEOL, a broad, practice-oriented education of young geologists in Switzerland is important. It therefore aims to promote practical experience and training on bachelor and master level. Concerning continuous development, various advanced education projects are supported and advertised by CHGEOL.
The board is working on developing new proposition to attract young geoscientists.
Are you in contact with decision makers at national level? If yes, in which field? – CHGEOL working groups process current topics with geological relevance to provide politicians and governments basic information for decision-making. For instance, the Underground Planning project group work for harmonised and sustainable concepts concerning the deep subsurface; a space which is used and exploited more and more. CHGEOL published a booklet with recommendations on the use of the geological subsurface in Switzerland with particular focus on property law.
How would you define your association’s relation with EFG? – We have good relations. In the last year, due to political decision, the relation between Switzerland and EU came more difficult. The participation in EU projects such as H2020 could not be granted anymore by EFG to CHGeol. As we are a small organization with volunteers who act besides their full work, we are sometimes overpassed by the numbers of requests coming from EFG.
What would you like the other EFG membership associations to know about CHGEOL? – In order to know more about the CHGeol activities, we invite you to visit our website www.chgeol.org
Is there any experience/good practice from CHGEOL that you would like to share with other associations? – CHGEOL with the Swiss Academy of Science has organized every two year a one-day symposium called “Gurten Symposium” to discuss current important topic. In 2014 one day was dedicated to discuss and explain the risks and advantages of the fracking process. This event encountered a considerable echo in Switzerland. In 2016, the symposium was devoted to the different topics to secure the raw materials supply in Switzerland.
What would you like to know about the other EFG membership associations? – We would like to share experience on the daily work of an association and how a small- medium size organization is organized in order to accomplish all the tasks coming from all parts.
In your opinion, how could EFG improve the knowledge about the activities carried out by other associations? – Create a discussion platform open to all the members of the national boards to share information and experience.
More information about the CHGEOL: http://www.chgeol.org /