“Don’t complain about the meat,” admonished Professor James Tumwine from the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University. In light of the environmental pressures caused by meat production and consumption, the AICCC has been a meat-free event. In a country where meat is an assumed component of many recipes, numerous participants have informally questioned the vegetarian fare provided. The reaction towards the conference menu is illustrative of a concern that has been raised throughout the Congress. Both Dr. Franklyn Lisk and Professor James Tumwine, in their summaries provided in this morning’s initial session, acknowledged that the need to change attitudes was a key component to climate change mitigation in Uganda and throughout Africa. Dr. Lisk observed, “the problem is not lack of knowledge.” While experts, including many conference delegates, are informed of the reasons behind consequences of climate change, most Africans themselves are bearing the consequences caused with the change and, as such, are very aware that change is taking place. For example, in Uganda food production has been declining annually over the past 50 years. Beyond awareness, then, what is imperative is changing attitudes and cultural perceptions. Education must go beyond the definition and causes of climate change to ways in which communities can be part of the adaptation process. To do this, delegates suggested incorporating climate change adaptation methods into the primary and secondary school national curriculum. The need for recognizing the gender component of climate change was also raised. Part of this would be changing attitudes to ensure that the effects of climate change on women are not only acknowledged, but mainstreamed into policy implementation. Honourable Jessica Eriyo, Ugandan Minister of State for Environment, observed that "People simply don't want to respond to what they can do." Attitudes and perceptions need to change so that Ugandans, Africans more generally, and global citizens at large, can implement adaptation policies as effectively as possible.
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