The Role of Heritage Sites in Modern Society and threats Climate Change is posing them

OpinionThe Role of Heritage Sites in Modern Society and threats Climate Change...

By Hina Haroon

Culture and heritage sites have played an important role since the beginning of mankind. They hold significance within societies and serve as direct representations of their values and identity.  


I had an opportunity to attend a valued discussion at the 6th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue that was part of the Baku Dialogue initiative and this discussion helped me to understand the preservation of heritage sites is important to maintaining a connection between the present (society) and our past. By safeguarding these sites, societies can ensure the continuity of their history and traditions for the next generation.

Heritage sites and monuments provide people with a sense of belonging and connection to their roots. Since the beginning of mankind, societies in different parts of the world have been interconnected through historical means by promoting their cultural and heritage sites. This not only allows them to promote their culture but also contributes significantly to the economic stability of countries. For example, Egypt has preserved its sites, allowing millions of tourists every year to witness the glory of the pyramids.

However, in many parts of the world, including Pakistan, the protection of heritage sites has become a significant challenge due to climate change. The 2022 floods in Sindh Pakistan caused damage caused to the country’s heritage, in particular, the World Heritage Site- Mohenjo-daro’s ruins. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the 2022 floods one of the greatest in recent human history. Pakistan since 2010 is facing climate change-related floods but the last one in 2022 was remembered for inundated several archeological spots in the Sindh province of Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that hydrologist Robert L Raikes and archaeologist George F Dales in the year 1960 proposed a theory that natural disaster, in the form of a series of floods, caused massive destruction in the area of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and contributed to the destruction of the major urban centers of IVC including Mohenjo-Daro, resulting the end of urbanization of IVC towns and cities. Mohenjo-daro had been facing climate change-related threats saline but increasing water table and now floods are adding issues for the survival of these over 5000-year-old archeological remains. Another issue being faced by Mohenjo-Daro is heavy rains in this area that have already caused the collapse of one of the walls of the archeological site protecting the main Stupa dome.

Mohenjo-Daro walls collapsed due to heavy rains in 2022
Mohenjo-Daro walls collapsed due to heavy rains in 2022

Increasing temperatures, flooding, and other issues have led to the destruction of various heritage sites all around the world and this problem is not only limited to Mohenjo-Daro.

The Bagerhat Mosque in Bangladesh and over 130 sites in China are affected by climate change. Sites like the Moai statues are also under threat due to rising sea levels. Moai statues are situated on Easter Island in Chile. The island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues, called moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site.

It is also indicated that if the global climate issue continues to worsen, many more heritage sites might be affected. The impact will not only involve the destruction of the sites but might also affect the culture and traditions of future generations, as they may lose their connection to their past through these heritage sites.

UNESCO has been working to protect these sites for many years. They have launched various projects aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change on heritage sites. One of these initiatives is the Climate Change and UNESCO Heritage project, which focuses on developing a shared test model with the help of both the private and public sectors to understand the impacts of climate change on these sites.

UNESCO is one of those organizations that understand the importance of heritage sites and how important they are for maintaining a deeper connection with our past and culture. These heritage sites help pass on culture to the next generation.

In conclusion, the preservation of cultural and heritage sites is very important for future generations to preserve our past culture and traditions.


Note: Having a degree in Mass Communication, Hina Haroon is a promising young journalist who focuses on the socio-political landscape, Women Empowerment, and Public Diplomacy.

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