Resilient Palma Workshop

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

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world and, as two recent cyclones demonstrated, is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The discovery of natural gas off the coast of Cabo Delgado has ignited hopes for economic development for some. For others, it has stoked fears that resource extraction will cause irreparable harm to this ecologically-precious landscape of mangroves, seagrasses, and coastal reefs. There is also concern that gas exploration will deepen social unrest which has manifest in a series of recent terrorist attacks.   

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) invited us to help visualize scenarios for the future of the town of Palma, a collection of fishing and farming villages. This region will likely experience explosive urbanization with the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility to supply markets in China and India. In August 2018, we traveled with GSAPP architecture, planning and Columbia business school students and faculty from Lurio University to Maputo to learn about the cities and landscapes of coastal Mozambique. With WWF and representatives from the Mozambican government and civil society, the students facilitated a workshop which explored how Mozambicans’ water, energy, housing and food all come from “natural capital” -- the vast stock of forests, rivers, wetlands and coastal ecologies. Together we conceived strategies to enhance and protect the natural capital in perpetuity.

After the workshop, we worked with WWF International and WWF Mozambique to develop two scenarios for Palma. In the “business as usual” scenario, the natural capital is plundered while widening inequality leads to social unrest. In an alternative resilient scenario, ecological, social and economic growth are mutually supportive. A public priority is placed on mitigating fossil fuel emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change. In June 2019, we presented these scenarios to officials in Cabo Delgado and to the energy company Anadarko responsible for extracting the gas. A pamphlet of these scenarios is being sent to all the relevant government agencies, businesses, and NGOs involved in the gas extraction of Coastal Mozambique. We will continue to press the fossil fuel industry to be accountable for the social and ecological risks they pose to communities and ecosystems here and elsewhere.   

 

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

ANABELA RODRIGUES, DIRECTOR OF WWF MOZAMBIQUE
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PUBLICATION

 

CRCL TEAM   

Kate Orff

Thaddeus Pawlowski

Georine Pierre

Lisa Dale

 

PARTNERS

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

ABInBev

Standard Bank and Seedstars

African Development Bank (AfDB)

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

UNHABITAT