Nord Pas de Calais Mineral Field – France

This mineral field was first shaped by agricultural practices and, since the 18th century, by the development of mines which partly erased the rural substrata. The spatial organization of its roads, canals, towns, and villages took into account the geology of the soil and the underground. Human establishments and facilities developed around a coal seam. Today the mineral field is a polycentric system of 1.2 million inhabitants and 245 communes, the largest of which (Lens) has a population of 32,000. These communes are composed of multiple centralities. They are home to communities that developed a strong sense of solidarity in the face of the drudgery of daily life, with numerous social organisations still active today. Since 2012, the mineral field has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several ministries signed a shared commitment to redevelop the area. Despite social and economic inequalities, local authorities have an optimistic view of the future. Key issues to take into account include heritage matters, the present needs of the population, and energy precariousness.