Global climate change is an unprecedented threat in human history; one that will unfold over a long timescale, unevenly, in a non-linear fashion,and unpredictably. In response there is increasing focus on programming and policies that promote transformative and incremental adaptation and enhance resilience to climate change. Emerging approaches that build the resilience of socio-economic and ecological systems, including through community-based sustainable management of natural resources, are gaining recognition as viable tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. These integrated ecosystem- and community-based solutions present African decision makers with new opportunities to plan for an uncertain future, using frameworks that include the most vulnerable people and important ecosystems. For their effective implementation, policymakers need a clearer understanding of how these initiatives function, ways to measure their effectiveness and scale them up, and a stronger quantitative evidence base to demonstrate their benefits.