by Luncedo Njezula
8 June 2023

As cities worldwide face increasingly frequent and severe shocks and stresses, building resilience has become a top priority for many urban leaders. But creating a resilient city isn’t just about implementing physical infrastructure and preparedness plans. It’s also about ensuring citizens are engaged and invested in the process. That’s where city communicators come in. By fostering dialogue and collaboration between city leaders and residents, communicators can help build a sense of ownership and community spirit that is critical for the success of resilience initiatives. But how can city communicators effectively engage citizens in the resilience discourse? I have compiled some key strategies to get city communicators started in engaging citizens and fostering community engagement.


First on the list: storytelling. Stories are a powerful tool for communicating complex ideas and inspiring action. As a city communicator, you can use storytelling to highlight your city’s risks and challenges and the innovative solutions being developed to address them. By sharing these stories through social media, blogs, and other channels, you can build a sense of community and inspire citizens to act.


Next up: fostering community engagement. Building resilience requires the active participation and collaboration of citizens, businesses, and community organisations. As a city communicator, you can create opportunities for these stakeholders to engage in the planning and implementation of resilience strategies. This can be done through public engagements and other events.


Thanks to advances in digital technology, it’s easier than ever for city officials to communicate with citizens and mobilise them for action. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be used to share information and solicit feedback. Using technology to foster collaboration and communication, city communicators can help build more resilient and connected communities.


Resilience is not just something that needs to be activated during a crisis. It should be a way of life. As city communicators, we must create awareness of the importance of resilience and how citizens can incorporate it into their daily routines. For example, one great way to promote resilience is to encourage planting more trees and creating green spaces. Not only do these actions contribute to producing clean air, but they also reduce the impact of extreme weather events. Promoting small, everyday actions like these can help build a culture of preparedness and adaptability among citizens.


Building resilience also requires partnerships between government, business, and civil society – and city communicators can play a crucial role in fostering these partnerships.


City communicators are uniquely positioned to unite stakeholders from different sectors and facilitate dialogue and collaboration. By building solid partnerships, city communicators can create a more coordinated and practical approach to building resilience. This means working closely with government officials, citizens, businesses, and community organisations to identify potential risks and develop strategies to address them. City communicators can foster partnerships by organising events that bring together stakeholders from different sectors, developing communication strategies that engage a wide range of stakeholders, and leveraging social media and other digital platforms to create a dialogue around crucial resilience issues.


Lastly, city communicators are critical in building more resilient cities. By utilising these strategies, you can effectively tackle the subject of city resilience and inspire action within your city. So go ahead, get creative, and start making a difference!

Luncedo Njezula is the Executive Manager: Governance, Strategy and Partnerships at the SA Cities Network. To contact him email