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Head of Communications

Deadline for applications: 13th July 2021


Job Summary

In this role, you will be a senior member of the Coalition for Urban Transition’s core team and join the global communications team of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. Reporting to the Director for Global Communications and Engagement for the WRI Ross Centre, you will have close and regular interaction with and guidance from the Director of the Coalition for Urban Transitions.

Your responsibilities will include developing communications strategies and outreach plans to reach national leaders and decision makers to advance the Coalition’s aim of building the global and national political commitment necessary to shift rapidly urbanising countries towards a more sustainable model of urban development. As part of the global communications team for the WRI Ross Center, you will work to integrate the Coalition’s national engagement focus with the Center’s long-term strategic work with city and regional stakeholders, reframing the urban agenda within national development objectives using the best available evidence and analysis.

Broadly speaking, the Center builds in-country coalitions of local stakeholders in partnership with national government to collectively identify challenges and solutions. As a member of the Coalition’s senior team, you will help position the Coalition as a world-renowned resource on sustainable cities and support and leverage the Coalition’s partners and network of senior leaders. Additionally, you will oversee branding, marketing, editing, report messaging, online communications, and traditional media and social media strategies, working hand in hand with a dynamic and growing team.

This is a term-limited position until Dec 2022. However, renewal of funding is possible.

This position is remote due to COVID-19, but you will be based at WRI’s office in London once restrictions have lifted.

Job Responsibilities

Traditional media, social media and digital (25%)

  • Plan and oversee the production and publication of op-eds from high profile champions and blogs from research authors and team members, including ghost drafting when appropriate, working in close consultation with the Engagement team
  • Lead on media-focused requests, including with senior leaders. Develop and maintain good relationships with media staff at WRI, C40, and other Coalition partner organisations and with key journalists in global newspapers and broadcasting outlets
  • Oversee the Coalition’s online presence, including responsibility for messaging and content on social media (LinkedIn and Twitter), and analysis of key trends, opportunities and priorities

Strategy and planning (20%)

  • Develop and implement a high-impact communications strategy in support of the Coalition’s business plan and for each significant output of the Coalition
  • As a member of the WRI Ross Center global communications team, ensure alignment and coordination on long-term communications strategy
  • Contribute to the development and execution of the Coalition’s overall strategy and resourcing plan as a senior core team member
  • Ensure external content reflects the values, tone, brand and key messages of the Coalition and is in line with overall strategies and is appealing to the target audiences
  • Develop key metrics and evaluate the impact of communication approaches, reorienting strategies as needed, providing regular updates for funders and staff members
  • Travel to and work with country offices in WRI’s network, as well as the Coalition’s network, to understand and coordinate strategic comms needs, including trips to WRI’s Washington DC headquarters

People and resource management (20%)

  • Manage and/or oversee junior communications staff (as appropriate with growth of the Coalition), consultants, contractors, interns, volunteers as required, through daily oversight of communications tasks, delegation of work, and ensuring their well-being and professional development
  • Hire or contract additional communications capacity as appropriate using WRI’s recruitment and procurement processes
  • Contribute to funding proposals and advise on funding strategy from a communications perspective, including drafting proposal sections, providing input on budget, providing regular updates to funders on communications activities, and identifying potential comms-focused funders
  • Develop and manage the Coalition’s communications budget and oversee the use of efficient internal processes

Publications (20%)

  • Oversee and upgrade the quality of the Coalition’s knowledge product production processes, with a focus on developing key messages and outreach strategies. This will include flagship global reports targeted at senior decision-makers, working hand in hand with programme and operations staff
  • Ensure publications are in-line with the overall communications strategy and messaging
  • Manage the production and publication of research papers, other knowledge products and supporting materials, including commissioning and managing the work of consultants, tone editors, copy editors, proof-readers and designers, liaising with authors and colleagues and maintaining high standards and value for money

Collaboration and external relationships (15%)

  • Build relationships with communications experts in our partner organisations to support alignment among organisations, maintain appetite for Coalition-related work and ultimately amplify key messages of the Coalition
  • Engage communications staff in the organisations leading the Coalition’s country and global programmes to help them co-design and co-implement the communications plan for each programme
  • Proactively develop relationships with external specialists such as journalists, media commentators and advertising agencies that are strategic to increasing our reach and influence
  • Represent the initiative externally as needed

Job Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in communications, public relations, or related field strongly preferred, or a bachelor’s with two years of additional experience
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in professional communications, policy, marketing, public relations, and/or journalism with some experience in a management or leadership role
  • Familiarity with policymaking, urban issues, sustainable development, environment and/or international development desired
  • Proven ability to lead the planning, coordination, and execution of communications strategies
  • Experience in managing communications with key decision-makers and stakeholders
  • Articulate, versatile, highly-skilled writer with experience writing blogs or opinion articles; strong oral communications skills
  • Experience in creative application of social media channels to impact audiences. Visual skills, such as video editing, photography, graphic design, and experience using Adobe CC are desirable
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively in a fast-paced office environment, both independently and as part of a global team
  • Adaptable to rapidly changing priorities and able to manage multiple deadlines and deliver high quality work products
  • Experience working with international partners across time zones and with external contractors and consultants
  • Willingness and ability to travel domestically and internationally where necessary

How to Apply

Please submit a cover letter with CV. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers Portal to be considered. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 13th July 2021 EOB BST.

Potential Annual Salary (London): £ 50,000-£ 61,000. Salary is commensurate with experience and other compensable factors.

Programme Overview

Worldwide, bold national government action to transform cities is mission-critical to avoiding the worst effects of climate and environmental breakdown and to delivering shared prosperity for everyone. That will require a significant stepping up of leadership by heads of state, government ministers, their advisors and civil servants over the next 5 years. The Coalition for Urban Transitions is a major global initiative dedicated to helping national governments to take that transformative action.

Our vision is zero carbon, resilient and inclusive cities by 2050 empowered and enabled by national governments. Our 2019 flagship global report Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity launched at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. With the backing of over 50 key institutions and a range of senior ambassadors, the report for the first time established a rigorous clear economic and social case for national government action for zero-carbon, resilient, and inclusive cities with key recommendations for decision makers. This was recently complemented by a new flagship global report released in March 2021, Seizing the Urban Opportunity, produced to support the UK COP26 Presidency. This report looked in detail at how six major emerging markets – accounting for over 40% of the world’s urban population (China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa) – could seize the urban opportunity to support economic, social, and climate outcomes in the run up to COP26 and beyond, including as part of their economic recovery efforts.

We also have in-depth, multi-year country programmes supporting the national governments of Mexico, China, Ghana, and Tanzania to develop and deliver ambitious national urban strategies, supplemented by a range of other in-country partnerships under active development, including in South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Country efforts are complemented by major global thought leadership and research efforts to plug critical knowledge gaps on how national governments can transform cities for better economic and climate outcomes. We have brought together a broad coalition of 35+ leading non-governmental institutions to co-develop our analysis and provide support to decision makers.

The Coalition is a special initiative of the New Climate Economy and is jointly hosted and managed by the World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (one of the world’s largest urban-focused NGOs with over 300 experts) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (a network of the 100 largest cities taking action on climate). Core staff are located in London, UK at C40 and DC, USA at WRI. In the next 5 years, the Coalition is set to grow significantly with deeper and broader non-governmental partnerships to support a much larger programme of national government engagement. This is reflected in our new 5 year business plan.

The Coalition for Urban Transitions London team is part of WRI Europe and is hosted by C40 Cities at the Bloomberg London Headquarters. The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is the World Resources Institute’s programme dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone, combining global research and on-the-ground experience in Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States combine to spur action that improves life for millions of people.

WRI Overview

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean.

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyse change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect.

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges, and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1400+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa,  Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organisational and programmatic practices.