News Desk : dhakamirror.com
According to a recent study, by 2050, searing heat waves will affect the lives and livelihoods of more than 3.5 billion people worldwide, half of whom live in urban areas.
Extreme heat poses major risks to cities and is becoming more dangerous every year, according to the study Building Urban Heat Resilience: An International Collaboration between DNCC and The Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (ARSHT-ROCK).
Dhaka North is the first city in Asia to appoint a Chief Heat Officer and joins the ranks of Arsht-Rocks Global Champions for Heat Action on behalf of one of the world’s fastest growing cities.
North Dhaka is particularly vulnerable to the urban heat island effect due to its densely populated urban core, with hotspots in the city more than 10°C higher than the surrounding countryside. These extreme heat conditions are threatening lives and causing labour productivity losses greater than 8% of the city’s annual output.
With the number of dangerously hot days estimated to double by 2050, the impacts of extreme heat will grow exponentially with a greater burden falling on women and girls, reads the report.
With temperatures rising in Asia at twice the rate of the global average and as cities prepare for another intense heat season, Mayor Atiqul Islam of Dhaka North City Corporation, is leading the way to become an official member of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center’s (Arsht-Rock) Global Champions for Heat Action platform, an initiative to help cities across the world tackle the challenges of extreme urban heat.
Under this joint initiative, the first of its kind in Asia, Bushra Afreen has been appointed as the city’s first- ever “Chief Heat Officer” (CHO), establishing her as the first to hold this role in Asia.
As CHO, Afreen will be responsible for leading efforts to make her city safer in the face of extreme heat. By unifying North Dhaka’s city-wide planning and responses to extreme heat, she will accelerate existing heat awareness and protection efforts, and initiate new work to reduce the risks and impacts of extreme heat for its 15 million residents, particularly its most vulnerable neighborhoods and people.
“I’m thrilled to join a global movement of city leaders and experts committed to protecting people and communities from extreme heat in my city,” said Afreen.
“As a native of Dhaka, I know firsthand the urgent need for action to address extreme heat in our city, where temperatures are rising at an alarming rate, and informal communities, migrants, and women and girls, are disproportionately affected. Every day, two thousand people move to Dhaka, and 70% of them do so because of climate-related disasters,” she added.
With a background in social welfare, government, and micro-finance and innovation, Afreen can address the challenges posed by extreme heat in the region.
Prior to her appointment, Afreen served as the executive of Social Welfare at her family’s export oriented garment business in Asulia, Bangladesh. In this capacity, she oversaw the implementation of measures to support and champion working mothers, including the provision of company-sponsored feeding rooms, child-care, and daycare facilities. Not content with just improving the welfare of working mothers, Afreen established a task force to reduce heat on production floors and developed sustainable fashion options. for clients. Afreen’s expertise also extends to micro-finance schemes and field management from her time at the Shakti Foundation. Afreen studied global. development at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in Canada and spent a year in Ghana studying culture and local government.
“Shakti Foundation has been tirelessly working to build climate resilience, awareness and community-based adaptation strategies. Increasing temperature and intense heat are disproportionately impacting the less privileged communities, especially women and children in every sphere of life, the very group we have been working with over the last 30 years. Through this collaboration we hope to find some innovative and sustainable solutions for them and make the city we love more livable for all” said Sohani Huq Elias, director, Climate Change Department, Shakti Foundation.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dhaka North as our first City Champion for Heat Action in Asia. Mayor Islam is a recognized climate leader, and in our partnership I will boost ongoing heat resilience efforts and encourage other cities in the region to follow suit,” said Mauricio Rodas, senior advisor Heat and City Diplomacy, Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.