What is the role of Dhaka North’s Chief Heat Officer Bushra Afrin?

The Report Desk

Published: April 21, 2024, 06:36 PM

What is the role of Dhaka North’s Chief Heat Officer Bushra Afrin?

Photo: Collected

As temperatures soar across the country, concerns mount among citizens about the escalating heat wave. In a bid to address the sweltering conditions, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) had introduced the position of ‍‍`Chief Heat Officer‍‍` to spearhead efforts in safeguarding the city‍‍`s residents from the scorching heat last year.

The appointment had sparked widespread criticism on social media platforms, with many questioning the suitability of Bushra, daughter of Afrin Mayor Atiqul Islam, for the role of ‍‍`Chief Heat Officer‍‍` in Dhaka North City.

Critics have raised doubts regarding the rationale behind the appointment, as well as the qualifications and experience of the appointees. Queries have also been raised about the global prevalence of such positions and the decision to appoint the mayor‍‍`s daughter instead of considering other candidates.

The concept of a Chief Heat Officer originated in response to the increasing severity of heat waves, a phenomenon observed not only in Bangladesh but also in other parts of the world. The initiative was undertaken by the US-based Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) and the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA), aiming to establish the world‍‍`s first ‍‍`Chief Heat Officer‍‍` position.

Chief Heat Officers are tasked with coordinating government measures to combat extreme temperatures, accelerating existing heat protection efforts, and implementing new projects to mitigate the risks and impacts of extreme heat on citizens.

The necessity for a Chief Heat Officer in urban areas stems from the exacerbation of the ‍‍`heat island effect‍‍` by climate change. As cities become significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, the need for proactive measures to counteract heat-related challenges becomes increasingly imperative.

Research indicates that urban areas will experience substantial temperature rises in the coming decades, resulting in significant economic losses. Therefore, the role of a Chief Heat Officer is crucial in addressing heat-related vulnerabilities and enhancing the resilience of cities to extreme temperatures.

The creation of the Chief Heat Officer position stems from a concerted effort by city mayors and governments prioritizing climate change initiatives aimed at mitigating warming effects.

The Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation (Arshot-Rock) played a pivotal role in establishing the Chief Heat Officer position, along with crafting a comprehensive job description for the role. The Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA) members actively support the mission and endeavors of Chief Heat Officers worldwide.

Contrary to popular belief, Bushra Afrin was not appointed by DNCC but by the Arshot-Rock Foundation to serve as the Chief Heat Officer for Dhaka North City Corporation. This appointment marks a significant milestone, as Dhaka North becomes the first city in Asia to have a Chief Heat Officer.

The salary and benefits for Bushra Afrin‍‍`s role will be provided by the Arshot-Rock Foundation, emphasizing the international nature of her appointment.

Salim Reza, Chief Executive Officer of Dhaka North City Corporation, clarified that the organization does not have a Chief Heat Officer position within its structure. Furthermore, there is no department dedicated to thermal control. Mayor Atiqul Islam‍‍`s daughter, Bushra Afrin, holds no official position within DNCC.

Bushra Afrin‍‍`s appointment ceremony took place at the Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Building of Dhaka University on May 3 of the previous year, marking the formal commencement of her responsibilities as Chief Heat Officer.

Bushra Afrin, equipped with a degree in Global Development Studies from Queen‍‍`s University, Canada, brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Heat Officer. Previously, she served as an executive at Shakti Foundation, a private development organization in Bangladesh, where she focused on safeguarding garment workers and promoting sustainable practices within the garment sector.

Afrin‍‍`s dedication to addressing heat-related challenges is evident in her years of involvement with Arshot-Rock, where she has been actively engaged in tackling intense heat waves in urban areas. Her approach emphasizes the pursuit of scientific and technical solutions to combat the adverse effects of rising temperatures.

As the first Asian to hold the position of Chief Heat Officer, Afrin joins a select group of professionals worldwide dedicated to addressing heat-related issues. Chief Heat Officers are currently active in various cities globally, including Miami and Florida in the United States, Freetown in Sierra Leone, Athens in Greece, Santiago in Chile, Monterrey in Mexico, and Melbourne in Australia.

These officers have implemented innovative measures to mitigate heat, such as temperature control systems in buildings, cooling pavements, and afforestation projects. Afrin aims to adapt and implement similar solutions tailored to the unique challenges faced by Dhaka North residents.

With Afrin‍‍`s leadership and innovative approach, residents of Dhaka North can anticipate relief from the blistering heat. Only time will reveal the extent of her impact in alleviating heat-related discomfort and enhancing urban resilience in the region.

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