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Where is the State Missing? Addressing Urban Climate Change at the Margins in Luanda and Maputo


Climate change and its urban dimensions have become more actively debated topics since the beginning of the millennium. As a result of being such a recent concern, the available definitions of what is at stake and what is needed to deal with it—in particular who should deal with it—are often too broad, vague and even disputable depending on the interlocutors, and often focussed on the rural areas. In the context of urban climate change in Luanda and in Maputo, there is an undefined set of tasks and responsibilities to deal with the impacts and prevent further negative effects to the urban dwellers and the poor in particular. This article identifies recurrently mentioned areas where the state is considered absent (and should be present). Based on fieldwork conducted in Luanda and in Maputo, the available literature, accounts of expert stakeholders, and the appraisals and claims of the urban dwellers, this article analyses the existing legal and policy dispositions and the existing systems and resources to deal with climate change. This is simultaneously confronted with what policy stakeholders, urban practitioners and urban dwellers on the ground see that is missing, needs to be improved, and is urgent and capable of improving daily lives. The main findings are that responsibilities and attributions, despite being unclear and not fully defined, predominantly rely on the state and state institutions.

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  1. Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden (2018–2021).

  2. Merged in April 2020 with the ministries of Culture and Tourism.


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The Swedish program FORMAS, grant number 2017–01980 funded the research for this paper.

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Correspondence to Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues.

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Udelsmann Rodrigues, C. Where is the State Missing? Addressing Urban Climate Change at the Margins in Luanda and Maputo. Urban Forum 33, 35–49 (2022).

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  • Climate change
  • Luanda
  • Maputo
  • State agency
  • Urban climate change