Transforming Landscapes: The Inspiring Journey of Restoring Mines –  the Ruhr Valley Region Model, Germany

Date: Thursday, 4 April 2024
Time: 13:00 to 14:00 CST
Duration of the webinar : 60 Mins
Platform : Zoom
Date: Thursday, 4 April 2024

Our experience of life on Earth is closely tied to the health of our land. Land is the foundation supporting our food systems, energy and mineral needs. This often overlooked asset sustains our economy and provides critical services, including clean water, biodiversity habitats, and climate resilience. It is the canvas for our cultural heritage and landscapes.

Despite its importance, land is a fragile and finite resource that requires meticulous management to ensure its sustained usability for the well-being of each successive generation. The process of forming just one centimeter of soil layer on the land spans hundreds of years; however, its loss can occur rapidly due to various factors such as a single rainstorm or an industrial incident. The global threat to land is exacerbated by human activities, such as competition for land, intensive land use, production and consumption patterns, and urbanization, which are now intensified by the impacts of climate change.

The collective challenges posed by climate change and land degradation are anticipated to displace an estimated 500-700 million people globally by 2050. Urgent and strategic measures are imperative to mitigate these threats and preserve the invaluable resource that forms the foundation of life on our planet. The mining, as well as other extractive, sector plays a pivotal role in contributing to land degradation, fostering environmental challenges such as habitat disruption, soil erosion, and ecosystem fragmentation. Mineral extraction often results in the creation of extensive industrial landscapes marked by depleted soils and altered topography. However, post-mining and progressive restoration, along with thoughtful repurposing planning, emerge as crucial strategies for transforming these industrially utilized regions. An examination of international post-mining best practices reveals that restoration, coupled with innovative reimagining and repurposing, can capitalize on existing topography and previously disturbed areas. This approach can also leverage market and political support to transition towards various usage models, fostering sustainable transformation.

This webinar will delve into the evolution of a mining and heavy industry region, particularly exploring mine closure and repurposing complexities. The Ruhr valley in Germany serves as a classical and successful example of post-mining repurposing and innovative land use. The mining legacy in Germany’s Ruhr area dates back centuries, initially marked by significant coal discoveries in the 18th century. This discovery catalyzed a transformative era, shaping the region into Europe’s primary hub for coal and steel production. The ensuing industrial boom fueled rapid urbanization, transforming once-agricultural landscapes into thriving industrial centers featuring massive coal mines and steel plants. While this progress laid a robust economic foundation, it also incurred a cost – extensive landscape depletion due to mining activities that altered the region’s topography. Subsequently, the Ruhr area confronted environmental challenges and the imperative for restructuring, marking its evolution from an industrial powerhouse to a dynamic metropolis with a renewed focus on sustainable development.

In the face of the escalating global climate crisis, there is a pressing need for socio-ecological transformations worldwide. The consequences of mining serve as a valuable scientific and sustainable starting point to guide this transformation. The upcoming webinar will present a unique perspective on the Ruhr area, which has undergone a remarkable structural transformation over the last century. Central to its success has been a collaborative approach, involving various stakeholders, especially community engagements. This inclusive strategy not only addressed environmental challenges but also contributed to the region’s social and cultural revitalization.

We find ourselves at a critical juncture where harnessing the power of land is not just a choice but a necessity to create resilient landscapes and communities. The G20 Global Land Initiative (GLI), at the forefront of land restoration efforts, plays a crucial role in addressing complex challenges. Achieving a sustainable transition and fostering an equitable society requires ongoing scientific expertise, capacity-building, and interdisciplinary collaboration—a comprehensive approach crucial for adept policymaking.

The Ruhr valley story underscores the urgency of action in land and soil protection, advocating for sustainable land and water use across key policy domains. The region’s experiences offer valuable insights, with a focus on landscape restoration, community engagement, and a unique blend of industrial heritage with modern development. In contrast, some other mining regions have struggled to adapt to the post-coal era, facing economic decline and social issues. The ongoing transformation in the Ruhr region is often hailed as a model for successful post-industrial development, emphasizing the importance of proactive initiatives and community involvement in shaping a region’s future.


  1. Post-Mining Structural Transformation: Showcase the Ruhr valley region’s successful post-mining repurposing as a classical example, offering insights into how a mining and heavy industry region can evolve and adapt.
  2. Guiding Socio-Ecological Transformation: Examine the consequences of mining as a starting point for guiding the socio-ecological transformation needed to address challenges posed by the escalating global climate crisis.


  1. Environmental and Conservation Stakeholders: This audience includes environmentalists, conservationists, and dedicated organizations with a keen interest in understanding the intricate relationships between land use, biodiversity, climate resilience, and water resources. Their focus aligns directly to explore the vitality of the land. It is crucial to emphasize the reasons why the public and policymakers should care about mined areas. For instance, highlighting the vulnerability of communities in these regions and showcasing how restoration efforts by companies can positively impact their fortunes.
  2. Urban Planners and Industrial Development Professionals: Professionals in urban planning and industrial development play a pivotal role in shaping regions undergoing structural transformations, especially post-mining repurposing. Offering insights into the challenges and successes of repurposing industrial areas is essential for their strategic decision-making.
  3. Policy Makers and Sustainability Advocates: This group, consisting of policymakers, Parliamentarians, government officials, and sustainability advocates, holds a key role in driving socio-ecological transformations and implementing policies to address climate change challenges. The exploration of mining consequences and its impact on socio-economic transformation directly aligns with their responsibilities and goals.

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