Scientists today warn of the increasing sea levels due to rising temperatures. This phenomenon however, has taken place before. For over 90% of the existence of humankind, sea levels were about 40-130 meters lower than they are today. A substantial amount of prehistoric and historic evidence of the life of our ancestors is now submerged. This underwater heritage is an extremely important source of information about the first human civilizations, human origins, but also about climate change and its impact. These remains tell us about the interaction of our ancestors with their environment, and as we face the rise of sea levels once more, this heritage can help us place our current challenges into a chronological context.
Much work still needs to be done. Underwater archaeological research is still in its infancy and the potential of such studies is only beginning to be understood. It is clear that we need to invest more into research.
Thus, the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage plays an important role. It raises awareness around underwater cultural heritage, improves protection and research, and allows for scientific exchange and cooperation. It is a major asset in the protection of underwater heritage from the many threats it faces. It is also of great importance in the research on climate change. It is therefore essential to support the 2001 UNESCO Convention.