As global communication strategies evolve, UN-Habitat's Chief of Communications, Katerina Bezgachina, sheds light on the transformative role of communication within the organization. In an interview at COP28, she delves into the dynamic changes observed in the UN-Habitat communication strategy over recent years.
Bezgachina emphasizes the pivotal role of communication as a bridge, connecting the organization’s mission to the goals it aims to achieve. "Communication is a bridge that is trying to connect what you are trying to do, what you have, to the goals that you are trying to achieve," she asserts. She underlines the importance of understanding the audience, addressing questions such as who they are, what they need to know about the work, and what actions are desired after learning about it.
Navigating the complex mandate of UN-Habitat, Bezgachina acknowledges the challenge of communicating technical concepts in a way that resonates with diverse audiences. The organization identifies three key target groups: policymakers and governments, urban planners and architects, and the general public. The complexity of UN-Habitat's work necessitates tailoring messages for each group, ensuring clarity and relevance.
To streamline communication, UN-Habitat focuses on five core topics: housing, urban climate action, localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urban resilience, and urban finance. Bezgachina notes the need to simplify technical terms and convey messages through various channels, recognizing the diversity of communication preferences among different age groups.
The interview highlights the strategic approach of UN-Habitat to engage with younger audiences. Recognizing the evolving landscape of social media, Bezgachina discusses efforts to adapt and experiment with platforms like TikTok. She emphasizes the importance of authenticity and the need to incorporate input from younger ambassadors and champions who can guide the organization in effectively reaching the youth.
In addressing the question of why engaging with young people is essential, Bezgachina emphasizes their role as future leaders. "Our mandate is really to create socially and environmentally sustainable cities for now and future generations. And young people are the future generation," she affirms.
By involving them in the conversation and ensuring they understand the concepts of sustainable urban development, UN-Habitat seeks to instil a sense of ownership among the youth.
As UN-Habitat continues to adapt its communication strategy, Katerina Bezgachina's insights provide a glimpse into the organization’s commitment to making the complexities of urban development accessible to a broader audience. The focus on authenticity, simplicity, and engaging younger generations reflects a forward-looking approach in building a sustainable and inclusive urban future.
Banner image: World Heads of States walk down Al Wasl avenue after their group photo during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. [COP28 / Neville Hopwood]