International Appalachia – A Conservation Summary Report

The following is a brief summary on the outreach, impact and activities of Coalfield Development throughout the international community as told through its Conservation Coordinator, Jacob Hannah.

Coalfield Development was founded in West Virginia upon the values of triple-bottom line sustainability, meaning that people, planet, and profit are all equally considered in any decision making. In 2018, I became our first Conservation Coordinator: learning, implementing, and sharing new strategies for coal- impacted communities. What follows is a brief testimony on how our Appalachian struggles and triumphs have resonated with others around the world – curious how ordinary coal mining descendants could band together and solve wicked problems.

I had only been with Coalfield Development two months when we received an invitation from Bloomberg Philanthropies to travel to Brussels and present our work at The Platform for Coal Regions in Transition, “Best practices and project ideas: Governance of Transition.” My whole life, I had grown up under the shadow of coal in Appalachia, a deeply nuanced topic that (for almost every Appalachian) simultaneously emits an odd sense of pride and shame, with a perpetual loudness that drowns out any other voices or conversations. In Brussels, that loudness found itself in an international symphony of similar struggles and heritage.

With translator headphones affixed, I listened as the words spoken from Polish, French, Russian, British, and Dutch mouths were saying the things that my father and papaw would speak on about the complexities of culture and coal. I found myself “amen-ing” my fellow panelist, Jean-François Caron, the Mayor of Loos-en-Gohelle, France who was sharing that a just transition wouldn’t focus on discarding miners and their culture, but would respectfully integrate and catalyze their assets as driving forces towards new and sustainable economies…

To read the full story, check out the report!

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