Opening remarks by Andar Mamdani, Counsellor (Development) at Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN
January 18, 2017

We’re very pleased to welcome all of you to today’s lunch to both celebrate Global Pulse Day, and to mark the conclusion of a very successful International Year of Pulses. Today we will be celebrating with a meal of pulses — from start to finish — and during each course, you will be hearing a little about the important legacies of the International Year of Pulses.

In addition to our event here in New York, Global Pulse Day is being celebrated by people all over the world in events coordinated by our-co-hosts, the Global Pulse Confederation. You have pads of paper and pens at your table and are invited to write your guess about how many events are happening today. The events started in New Zealand almost 18 hours ago. We have a Pulse Prize for the person with the closest guess.

We also invite you to use the hash tags on the menu (#IYP2016 and #GlobalPulseDay as well as #LovePulses) to tweet about the event. Your pictures and comments will be part of the #GlobalPulseDay livestream. There are also some quiz questions on your table which will help you to discover some illuminating facts about pulses. It will help you learn just how much has been happening this year. And there are pulse experts stationed at every table who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

As you know, in 2013, the UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses to focus attention on the role that pulses play in sustainable food production. The designation of the year was in recognition of the fact that pulses are the biggest source of protein for people, but that they receive little attention in terms of plant breeding investment, crop rotation, food security, and policy dialogue. As part of the International Year, efforts were therefore made to raise public awareness and build connections throughout the food chain.

The International Year was successful on all these fronts. It focussed on the nutrition, market access and sustainability impacts of pulses, and brought together UN Members, civil society, the scientific and academic community, and the private sector.

The Government of Canada joined other organizations worldwide to celebrate the Year and raise public awareness about the importance of pulses. Canada has played a leadership role in promoting pulses based on our own experience. We transformed pulses from a small scale crop to Canada’s fifth largest crop, with approximately 90% being sent to markets abroad. Canada is now the world’s leading exporter of pulses, and accounts for over 40 percent of global pulse exports. Canada’s main pulse crops include pea, lentil, bean, and chickpea crops. Canada also works to support pulse crops internationally including through the provision of funding for pulse research efforts through Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the IDRC. You’ll hear more about some IDRC supported work a little later today.

In advance of today’s lunch, you will be happy to know that pulses are high in protein, iron, and zinc. A diet high in pulses lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Pulses also take less energy to grow and produce fewer greenhouse gases. They are nitrogen fixers, meaning they nourish the soil with nitrogen, reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizers. We can take advantage of these benefits by incorporating pulses into agricultural systems and diets.

2016 has been a tremendously busy and a tremendously successful year. Research and innovation has been stimulated, knowledge created and disseminated, production, consumption and trade increased. The Year shone a spotlight on the importance of pulses in sustainable development, undernutrition and over nutrition, and climate change. In 2016 we identified the challenges; now we need to address them. We need to scale up innovation, support livelihoods, further increase consumption and production, and continue to use social media and other tools to share the many benefits of pulses. We also need to maintain the connections created during the course of the year and continue to work together to promote these “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future”.

We hope you enjoy today’s stimulating programme highlighting some of the paths forward, and we wish you bon appetit!