TIME

MAKING CHANGE

Eight young leaders on their visions for the decade ahead, from ending nuclear threats to fixing inequality and the environment

BASIMA ABDULRAHMAN

Sustainable architect, Iraq

Basima Abdulrahman was studying at Auburn University in Alabama when ISIS took over swaths of her native Iraq in 2014. As the Iraqi army, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, fought the militants, dozens of towns, including much of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, were destroyed.

When Abdulrahman, 32, returned home after finishing her master’s in structural engineering, she saw a silver lining in the rubble of her beloved country. “When we rebuild, we can make sure we are using the right materials—efficient in terms of water and energy consumption,” she says. “There is an opportunity because we have so much rebuilding to do.”

In 2017, she founded KESK, Iraq’s first initiative dedicated to green building, offering design and consulting services. Creating greener structures means combining the latest energy-efficient technologies and materials with Iraq’s traditional building methods.

“Indigenous practices, like building blocks made of clay, are better for the environment than cement,” she says, adding that the dome-shaped homes popular in some parts of Iraq help airflow and reduce energy consumption.

Abdulrahman wants the country to do its part to combat global warming, but its shortages of electricity and water make efficient building even more important. Erbil, where Abdulrahman lives, suffers hours of power cuts every day, and water shortages were so bad in other parts of the country over the summer that the government halted water-intensive rice farming.

The biggest challenge, she says, is a lack

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME1 min read
A Drug-trade Dynasty Where Women Rule
In most dramas about the drug trade, women hover quietly in the background. Rarely are they central characters, even if they have everything to gain or lose as a result of the ruthlessness of the men around them. Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s s
TIME7 min read
Venezuela’s Crossroads
TWO MEN CLAIM TO BE THE President of Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves on the planet and so little food that in a single year the average citizen lost 24 lb. One, Nicolás Maduro, secured a second term in a 2018 election widely regarded as
TIME2 min read
Seeing The Bright Side
WHILE WE LIVE AT A TIME WHEN DIVISION is the norm; when biases and beliefs seem static and immobile; when hard science is debatable; when journalism is devalued; when humanity is stripped from those in cells, centers and shelters; when it’s all just