Saturday 10 April 2021

Archaeology and climate change

Climate policies should reflect the need to protect vulnerable archaeological sites and artefacts from climate change impacts.
Courtesy: Shahnaj Husne Jahan

Being born and brought up in Lalbag of Old Dhaka, I often find myself in the middle of a large, rapidly changing archaeological site by the Buriganga River. But as a climate change enthusiast, I never linked archaeology with climate change before. Participating in a webinar of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) recently, however, left me thinking about their connection.

Till the 1970s, it was mostly geologists and climatologists who talked about the changes in our climate. By the 1990s, it gradually turned into a broader environmental concern. And over the last couple of decades, it has become a development issue, if not an issue of survival of the humanity. In many countries, as in Bangladesh, climate change is still being dealt with by environment ministries. Climate change has recently been re-branded as "climate crisis" or "climate emergency". Thus, practically, it is no longer the sole responsibility of a specific ministry or agency to act upon.

Bangladesh has mainstreamed climate change superbly. Its 25 ministries and divisions, for example, are now receiving money to take climate actions. In the 2020-2021 budget, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh allocated 7.55 percent of its budget (almost similar to the previous annual budget) to climate-related activities through those 25 agencies. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs or its Department of Archaeology, however, is not one of them.

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