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The Strength of Weak Ideas?

 

The Strength of Weak Ideas?
Human Security, Policy History, and
Climate Change in Bangladesh

David Lewis

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The problem of climate change has rapidly come to pre-occupy development researchers and policy makers. This essay discusses recent international attention being paid to Bangladesh as a result of this growing concern and con-siders the implications of this issue for human security. It asks whether lessons are being learned from the past about how coherent policy responses to long-standing environmental and developmental problems can be devel-oped, questions the ‘crisis narrative’ approach to climate change, and draws a historical comparison with a major donor-led flood control initiative that took place two decades ago in Bangladesh. Comparing the contemporary challenges of climate change with earlier policy responses to HIV/AIDS, Dyson (2005) highlights a key difficulty: our
frequent inability to take in the ‘big picture’. What tends to happen is that ‘experts’ in the field massively under-estimate the social side of such problems, since they are mainly preoccupied with narrow technical specializations. And as Mosse (2005) reminds us, policy is as much a social phenomenon as it is a technical one.

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