The Ganges River Delta
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Ganges River Delta Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anti-politics of climate change

Depoliticisation of climate change undermines the historic reasons that made Bangladesh vulnerable to it.

(This is an essay from our September 2015 print quarterly 'The Bangladesh Paradox'. See more from the issue here.)

In the global imaginary of climate change, Bangladesh holds a prominent position. Frequently described as the 'world's most vulnerable country to climate change', this imagination of Bangladesh's impending climate crisis has taken on a life of its own. The spectre of Bangladesh underwater, wiped off the map by rising sea levels, has given birth to a crisis narrative that obscures the ways in which interventions in the environment and social life of the country, particularly in the coastal region, has transformed the landscape many times over. Long-standing debates on development in Bangladesh has structured these understanding of climate change in subtle but foundational ways. Making our connections explicit indicates new directions in the search for social and environmental justice.

Two distinct perspectives have prevailed within Bangladesh on how the country should address climate change. These two standpoints may be termed Early Adaptors and Local Activists. These perspectives are ideal types. It's rare to find anyone engaged in these conversations who would not, in either public or private, acknowledge the central concerns of the other standpoint.

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Himal Southasian