Auburn alumna and owner of Iraq’s first ‘green building’ company named World Economic Forum co-chair

Published: January 17, 2019
Font Size

Article body

Auburn University international alumna and Fulbright scholar Basima Abdulrahman, who recently founded Iraq’s first sustainable architecture consultancy, will co-chair the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Annual Meeting Jan. 22-25 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The meeting theme is “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Abdulrahman—one of six young leaders from the World Economic Forum’s network of Global Shapers—will be among such fellow co-chairs as the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. Abdulrahman will share her input on how to best build a global architectural landscape that lifts billions of people out of poverty in a clean, green way. Ultimately, she hopes her position as co-chair and her ideas on sustainable building will highlight the role of youth in setting the tone and vision for the meeting’s theme.

“When I was notified that I was selected as a co-chair, I was humbled by the opportunity,” said Abdulrahman. “I also felt the massive responsibility it carries and the importance to best echo the voices of youth across the globe.”

Abdulrahman graduated from Auburn in 2014 with her master’s degree in civil engineering. While a student at Auburn, Abdulrahman developed a passion for sustainable building and a rich knowledge of engineering and has since founded her own company, KESK—which means “green” in Kurdish. KESK is Iraq’s first sustainable architecture consultancy.

“I am passionate about utilizing the natural environment because it is my belief that embracing the world around us empowers people,” said Abdulrahman. “Not to mention, at this rate we have 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe, and since buildings emit approximately one third of GHG emissions, designing them to meet sustainability features is one of the key strategies to combating the issue.”

A native to Iraq, Abdulrahman is placing high importance on helping her home country make better environmental choices when it comes to architecture. According to her, the economic and financial crisis in Iraq due to the war on terrorism in combination with the drop in oil prices has imposed the need to develop plans for a more conservative use of resources. Through KESK, Abdulrahman hopes to improve the environment and promote social cohesion in the northern region of Erbil, where her company is located.

“It is critical to rebuild Iraqi cities to be more sustainable and inclusive through making buildings and infrastructures smart, healthy, environmentally responsible and resource efficient,” said Abdulrahman. “And while my company, KESK, is the first company in Iraq to specialize in green building, we hope to pave the road for others to go green.”

In addition to being selected as a co-chair for the forum’s annual meeting, Abdulrahman has also spoken at the Women Power Summit, TEDxNishtiman and Global Climate Action Summit and was featured in the Real Leaders magazine as one of the 100 Visionary Leaders for 2018.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.