BRGM's scientific strategy, version 2019, which covers a 10-year period, defines the the French geological survey's research priorities, in order to address major socio-economic issues in which the surface and subsurface play a key role. The public establishment has also signed an objectives and performance contract with the State for the period 2018-2022.

Responding more effectively to socio-economic challenges involving the surface and subsurface while ensuring better continuity between research, expertise and innovation among public authorities and businesses: these are the main challenges that BRGM has set for itself with its scientific strategy. It defines the French geological survey's research priorities for the next decade, in order to address major socio-economic issues in which the surface and subsurface play a key role.

BRGM’s scientific strategy, with its six key objectives, aims to ensure a clear understanding of its actions. It is organised into key fields of application and cross-cutting missions.

The BRGM, a public industrial and commercial institution working under the supervision of the Ministries responsible for Research, the Environment and Mining, is also committed to the State through its objectives and performance contract, which defines the main actions carried out by BRGM over the period 2018-2022.

Flood discharge patterns on the volcanic sand of the Jökulsá Canyon in Fjöllum, Iceland

Science strategy for BRGM: key research priorities for the next 10 years

The BRGM's science strategy outlines our key science priorities for the coming decade. It has been designed as a continuum between producing new knowledge and converting this knowledge into expert advice for public policy and innovative services for businesses.

Geoscience in response to global challenges

BRGM's scientific strategy sets out the main research orientations, in order to address major socio-economic issues in which the surface and subsurface play a key role.

It is based on the main global challenges where geosciences have a crucial role to play in the coming years, such as climate change, anthropogenic pressure on the environment and urban growth. BRGM's scientific strategy is in line with the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, several of whose goals directly concern BRGM: access to clean water and sanitation, use of clean energy, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, and climate action.

A science programme designed to address six key objectives

BRGM's scientific positioning is now built around six major objectives.

    The 6 challenges of BRGM's scientific strategy

    The 6 challenges of BRGM's scientific strategy.

    © BRGM

    Two cross-cutting objectives

    Geology and knowledge of the subsurface

    Our main objective as a national geological survey organisation is to acquire geological information. This information needs to be constantly updated to keep pace with new observations and improvements in technologies and scientific concepts.

    Digital data, services and infrastructure

    Managing and processing surface and subsurface data have become a key issue for any geological survey organisation. Because most BRGM data are acquired with public funding, it is essential to disseminate them more widely, in accordance with open science policies in France and Europe.

    Four specific objectives

    Groundwater management

    Groundwater management is becoming a crucial issue because water tables are increasingly subject to the twin pressures of abstraction for human consumption and climate change, which is significantly disrupting recharge parameters. Increasingly efficient monitoring tools are needed to predict changing qualitative and quantitative trends in water resources.

    Risk management and spatial planning

    Regional risks and spatial planning require the management of natural risks and regional vulnerabilities as well as monitoring and assessing risks arising from former industrial and mining activities, with a view to contributing to sustainable and optimised regional development.

    Mineral resources and the circular economy

    The circular economy is steadily becoming established in France and Europe. BRGM is one of the few institutions capable of covering the entire field of research and innovation concerning the availability of primary mineral resources in relation to their life cycle.

    Subsurface potential for the energy transition

    Finally, the energy transition is set to profoundly change our energy systems with more decentralised modes of production, in which the subsurface can become a significant component. In this context, the development of geothermal energy and underground storage of energy or CO2 are technologies with high economic and innovation potential.

    Plane flight over Lake Powell and the Colorado River, United States

    The State-BRGM performance contract for 2018-2022

    The State-BRGM performance contract is the document that will guide the French geological survey's activities for the 2018-2022 period.

    The BRGM is a public industrial and commercial institution working under the supervision of the Ministries responsible for Research, the Environment and Mining.

    The performance contract reflects a vision common to the French State and the BRGM on implementation of our strategic policies. It guides the institution's action for the period 2018-2022.

    6 key goals for 2018-2022

    It is organised around 6 key goals and sets out 20 targets together with indicators and milestones.

    Research is a major component in the BRGM's key roles, which it undertakes to international standards of excellence. The quality of research and scientific output is a determining factor for the quality of the BRGM's other activities, which range from expert studies for public and private organisations to transfers of innovations and management of its industrial and service subsidiaries

    The distinctive nature of our key roles  requires a scientific policy and programme that must combine a well-defined research strategy in our areas of specialisation (geosciences and georesources) with skills resourcing and stimulation for scientific output and the transfer of research results, which therefore promotes interdisciplinarity.  High research performance also demands infrastructure to the highest international standards, the whole being underpinned by a strong partnership policy consistent with the BRGM's scientific priorities.

    Each year, the guidelines issued by the national public services steering committee (CNOSP), which are now strategic in nature, provide the framework for the BRGM's activities to support public policy development over the next 3 years.

    These guidelines now cover a wide range of fields, reflecting a high degree of adaptability to the changing needs of the public authorities.

    Innovation, development and transfers of research results make up one of the three pillars of the BRGM's activities, complementing the development of its scientific and technical research and expertise.

    The BRGM's current position is still essentially focused on research and support to public policy development, with a high degree of interaction between these  two pillars.  The third pillar will therefore be the focus of particular efforts, with a view to strengthening the economic impact of our R&D and expert activities through improved distribution of results and more efficient transfer to socio-economic sectors (including the BRGM's own subsidiaries).

    The overall aim is therefore to apply a shared development and innovation strategy across the BRGM at every level, the ambition being to expand the dissemination of scientific and technical results in France and internationally.

    The BRGM's European and international strategy is developed within a multilateral framework.

    Because today's environmental challenges, from sustainable resource management to the energy transition and climate change impacts, all have dimensions that are at once local, regional and global, they demand collective responses to which science, technology and innovation will have major contributions to make.

    The landscape of higher education and research has been profoundly changed over the last decade by successive reforms and programmes under the Investing for the Future scheme designed to foster sites of excellence of a critical size that ensure a high level of international visibility.

    Research clusters geared to intenational activities and specialising in themes of direct relevance to the BRGM are now in place, and it is important that we both support these local dynamics and learn from them in developing our expertise, by seeking synergies within the framework set out by the strategy for the regions (STRATER) set out by the Ministry for research.

    Synergies will also be sought with the PhD schools at these sites and with the BRGM's PhD programme and policy for research supervision.

    The BRGM's overall strategy for the next five years will be implemented in a context of broadened opportunity (renewal of our scientific strategy, strengthened partnerships with centres of excellence, digital platforms and infrastructure, etc.) but also of budget constraints.

    The BRGM needs to be in a position to scale up its expert and research capacities to address new challenges, better anticipate and prioritise our activities and improve performance. We will support this approach by closer targeting of project management to results and to meeting the needs of our supervisory ministries and partners (scientific community, businesses) and to demand from citizens seeking more reliable and transpârent public information.