While rapid advances are now being made in understanding the current and likely future dynamics of urban climate/global environmental change under different scenarios, the evidence base is highly uneven. For simplicity we refer henceforth to climate change (CC), although with the understanding that the broader, indirect ramifications of CC are often included in the scope of work addressed in this special issue. There are still important research gaps and areas of uncertainty. Most urgently, current weaknesses lie in responses to CC, both globally and within Africa. The most extensive and robust evidence exists for OECD countries and other selected hotspots, such as Rio de Janeiro, Durban and the urban areas of small island developing states. Our knowledge and understanding of the processes of change as they are already affecting many African urban areas, and will do so increasingly through this century, remain seriously inadequate and patchy. Not only does this lacuna represent a major academic opportunity to learn across the diversity of Africa’s 54 countries straddling very different envi- ronmental and historic-linguistic-cultural regions, but the ability to formulate and implement appropriate climate change mitigation (CCM) and adaptation (CCA) initiatives depends on appropriate evidence and under- standing of the underlying drivers and processes.