Domes of Mosque in Bagerhat (2019-05) by CyArkCyArk
Often referred to as “ground zero for climate change,” Bangladesh ranked sixth on the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index, and for many Bangladeshis, particularly in rural, low-lying coastal areas like the Sundarbans, those risks are already unmanageable.
Floating through BagerhatCyArk
Rising sea levels
Climate experts predict that by 2050, rising sea levels will submerge some 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace in excess of 20 million people.
Relative sea level rise in Bangladesh is greater than in many other countries, due to the simultaneous submergence of low coastal areas. Moreover, sea level rise and cyclones have combined effects: cyclone-induced storm surges are projected to inundate an additional 15% of the coastal area.
3D model of Shait Gumbad Mosque - Bagerhat by CyArkCyArk
Among the most insidious climate change impacts in coastal Bangladesh is the problem of rising water and soil salinity.
But salinity is not a new issue for Bangladesh...
A distinctive feature of the Sundarbans region, for example, is its salty air. According to the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), salinity affected areas in the coastal region of Bangladesh increased by 26% from 1973 to 2009.
That prospect of increased salinity in the Khan Jahan ponds, together with efflorescence at the revered Bagerhat mosques, raises the question of the role of these structures in the broader issue of social resilience.
How can these issues be addressed?
Are there win-win strategies that will address the world heritage conservation issues that could also address other problems? What is the impact on resilience of the community in terms of identifying, pride, and tourism? What would be the impact of migration on the site and living heritage values?
Andrew Potts, ICOMOS Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Climate Change.
This project was made possible through a collaboration between the Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh