Resilient Palma Workshop

How can the natural and human capital of Coastal Mozambique be preserved in the face of a natural gas boom?  

Cabo Delgado, Mozambique is a place of great ecological and cultural wealth. It also contains Africa’s fourth-largest known deposit of liquefied natural gas offshore. The extraction of this gas and subsequent urban growth is assured in the years to come. The town of Palma is expected to grow from 20,000 to at least 200,000. How these developments will affect the country’s existing natural and social capital remains to be seen.



On August 20 and 21, 2018, the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (CRCL), World Wildlife Fund, and Columbia University’s GSAPP conducted a five-day workshop in Maputo. The workshop brought together faculty and students in architecture, urban design, planning, business, and environmental management from Columbia University; architecture students and faculty from Lúrio University; and other participants from local and international NGOs, public, and private sectors. This diverse group from many places and many sectors came together to build an understanding of the interconnected risks to the flows of natural capital in northern Mozambique. By describing how the existing forests, rivers and bays provide food, water, shelter and energy today, they began to sketch a future vision of sustainable, resilient development based on harnessing and enhancing natural capital.



This workshop provided a forum for the major stakeholders in the economic development of northern Mozambique--- government, civil society, communities, and the private sector--- to collectively understand the threats and opportunities that gas exploration, rapid growth, climate change, and related factors pose to the region. The workshop featured presentations from each stakeholder on proposed development plans, followed by breakout group discussions.  On the last day, students from GSAPP, the Columbia University Business School, and Lúrio University made short presentations of what they learned and developed visualizations of potential future development in northern Mozambique.


“These scenarios allow us to see what we want to happen. It gives us hope because we can see it.” 



CRCL used the resulting knowledge and information to develop visualizations of potential futures for Palma. One shows the business-as-usual consequences of resource extraction and unmanaged growth; the second considers climate resilience, social justice, and circular and sustainable economies.





Kate Orff

Thaddeus Pawlowski

Georine Pierre

Lisa Dale



World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

National Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Mozambique (MITADER)

National Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mozambique (MEF)

Lúrio University, Mozambique

Third Way Africa


Standard Bank and Seedstars

African Development Bank (AfDB)

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)