Zahin Rohan Razeen with his mother at their house in Gulshan, Dhaka
Zahin Rohan Razeen with his mother at their house in Gulshan, Dhaka Sajid Hossain

Zahin Rohan Razeen of Bangladesh has been placed on the United Nations’ list of 17 young leaders of the world for his work on improving the quality of people’s lives.

The United Nations has selected 17 young people from around the world, including Zahin, who have made significant contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their respective countries.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

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The UN on Friday announced the names of the selected young people. This initiative has been taken to recognise the youth who have been contributing to the SDGs being reached in their respective countries through their work and leadership. On the list of the 17 young people this year, other than Zahin there are youth from Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia and the US.

The UN has been publishing the lists of such youth every two years since 2016. This year they publish the third list. Zahin in the second young Bangladeshi to find place on the list. The first Bangladesh to be selected among these young champions was Shougat Nasbin Khan in 2016. She set up a digital school in Mymensingh and is involved in various other initiatives.

Urbansation does not mean development. There is urbanisation in Bangladesh, but this urbanisation does not improve people’s lives. That is why the youth should work on environment-friendly biotechnology
Zahin Rohan Razeen

The UN on its website says that Zahin dreams of changing the future through technology. He basically works on four initiatives. He uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the quality of water and detect the presence of germs in the water. WASA is using this technology now. Zahin has been working since mid-2019 as a system engineering consultant for WASA.

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“Being named on US young leaders list is an inspiration for me,” said Zahin, speaking to Prothom Alo, “It will encourage me further in my work.”

Zahin grew up in Dhaka. He is presently studying entrepreneurship at the Watson Institute in the US. He plans on doing his post graduate studies in statistical hydromechanics. Earlier he studied mechatronics engineering, math and statistics at the University of Glasgow. The University of Glasgow endorsed him as a ‘future world changer’.

This correspondent had a long conversation on Saturday with Zahin at his Gulshan residence in the capital city. As he grew up in Dhaka, Zahin has a lot of ideas about Dhaka too. He said, urbansation does not mean development. There is urbanisation in Bangladesh, but this urbanisation does not improve people’s lives. That is why the youth should work on environment-friendly biotechnology. These ideas inspire his work.

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Zahin is involved in a number of technological innovative initiatives. He is the founder of Quantum Polychemics Biotechnology which converts perishable waste destined for landfill into valuable materials through biological processes. It has the vision of tackling plastic pollution and creating environment-friendly bioplastic for the packaging industry, food supplies, agriculture, textiles, etc. Involved in the same project is scientific advisor of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, Mobarak Ahmed Khan, who invented the biodegradable jute polybags.

I want to work on innovations that have a positive impact on people’s lives
Zahin Rohan Razeen

Zahin is working on a number of start-ups too. One of these is Hydroquoplus, working on safe water. Then he had Lingwing, a leaning initiative through which one can gain expertise in both spoken and written Bangla and English. He also has another initiative, Aqualink Robotics, for companies seeking automation. He is the co-founder of this initiative.

Zahin was also one of the 35 youth selected by the United National Environment Programme (UNEP). Seven persons from this list will be selected as winners at the end of this year. Zahin has been a One Young World Ambassador for the UN since October 2018.

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Zahin is the youngest among three siblings. His mother, Nasrin Jahan, came join in the conversation at their Gulshan house. She said Zahin had been a naughty young boy and loved sports, especially football. His school even threatened to expel him once because he spent so much time and energy on football.

Zahin said math is his favourite subject. He does not like the way students in this country learn math by heart. He said this is not mathematics.

What are Zahin’s dreams? “I want to work on innovations that have a positive impact on people’s lives,” said Zahin Rohan Razeen.