Tilly works in policy research and communications for Emerging. She is involved in Emerging’s communications, secretariat functions, and the management of committees. She has always had a passion for sustainable business development, stakeholder engagement and international development. Prior to joining Emerging, Tilly was completing her Masters of Science in Sustainable Energy Development. During her masters degree she was gaining work experience as the newsletter editor for the SEDV program. In addition, Tilly worked as an intern/writer for a local non-profit that aims to connect environmentally responsible businesses in Calgary. Tilly is a Canadian national. She graduated from the University of Calgary with her Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science with an Honours Specialization in Animal Behaviour from the University of Western Ontario. Tilly has lived across Canada including Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. In addition, she spent a 10 month working holiday in New Zealand. Tilly is currently based in Calgary, Alberta.

Keeping Agriculture in the Climate Change Discussion

As I look back on 2016, it seems fair to state it was a tumultuous year. We saw Brexit, Trump, Duterte, economic slowdown in China, global unrest, and so much more. Alberta (my home province) was no exception. In 2015, the 40 year reign of our conservative party ended and was replaced with the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Alberta. It wasn’t really until 2016 that we saw the NDP government begin to develop and implement their new policy and legislation. This, combined with a new liberal federal government in Canada has led to an unprecedented political landscape in Alberta. Recently, our new government has implemented a carbon levy. For context, Alberta is known in Canada as oil country, this industry accounting for almost 20% of Alberta’s GDP1. And as such, we have higher greenhouse gas emissions than the average province, the highest to be exact2. As of Monday this week, a carbon levy is now being charged on all fuels that emit greenhouse gas emissions when combusted at a rate of $20/tonne in 2017 and $30/tonne in 20183. The rate is based on the amount of carbon pollution released by the fuel when it's combusted, not on the mass of fuel itself. It is important to note that the Canadian federal government is implementing a minimum nationwide price starting at $10 per tonne in 2018 and increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022. So this carbon levy would impact Alberta whether or not the NDP government implemented it, albeit at a less aggressive rate.

While much of the focus of this new bill has been on how it will impact our primary industry, oil and gas, it also impacts numerous other sectors, in particular, agriculture. The agriculture industry represents 8% of GHG emissions in Alberta4. This is a substantial portion that should be mitigated, but done so in a way that does not crush this important and very present industry, particularly with food security becoming a greater issue globally. An example of how important agriculture is in Alberta is Alberta beef. Alberta is known as the heart of the Canadian beef and cattle industry. Currently, 40% of all cows in Canada reside in Alberta, 70% of the feedlot capacity resides in Alberta and it contains 70% of the processing capacity in Canada5. About half of provincial agricultural emissions are primarily from the cattle sector and the other half from the cropping sector. This means both livestock and crops are going to be heavily impacted by this new levy. Understanding that this new levy would significantly influence many of our farmers, the provincial government has exempted farm fuel from the carbon levy, but, other costs such as fertilizer, crop protection products, etc., will still be subject to it. For businesses like Agrium, a company that develops, produces, markets and sells agricultural products and related chemical products, and is the third largest employer in Alberta, this represents a significant cost6. Additionally, some primary producers have shown concern that they will not be able to pass down the cost and will have to absorb it into their already tight margins. It is important to note that GHG emissions are a present issue in Alberta that must be addressed, but doing so in a way that continues to encourage economic development and protects some form of industry is important. This is why it is imperative to have continued engagement with the agriculture industry by the government going forward. It is too soon to tell the full impact the new levy will have on our farmers but I hope that with continued interaction between government and farmers we will be able to reduce our environmental footprint while promoting new and innovative ideas that will maintain this vital industry.

Our current situation in Alberta is a microcosm for trends we are seeing globally.  At COP21 in Paris, nearly 80 percent of the countries said they would use agricultural practices to curb climate change, and more than 90 percent said they would use those practices in addition to changes in forestry and land use linked to farming7. Agriculture backs many countries' economies and this sector is increasingly under threat from weather extremes, in particular drought and floods. In other words, as was the motto used by the FAO for World Food Day this year: “the climate is changing, food and agriculture must too”. Because farming practices can produce large amount of emissions, this industry has a significant yet unrealized potential to mitigate climate change. Whether this happens through farm practices, such as soil carbon sequestration through cover cropping, or by knowledge sharing between countries and within countries, agriculture needs to be a part of the climate change discussions. In our efforts to protect our environment, we want to ensure we are not crushing this important sector which is key to addressing food security issues, combating poverty, and ensuring good nutrition globally.



Let’s Recognise the Importance of Livestock in Achieving the SDG’s

Undeniably there are environmental impacts associated with livestock, as with everything, but with this same stroke there are irrefutable benefits of animal source proteins, especially in developing nations. The article, “Lets ‘meat’ in the middle on climate change”, discusses how eliminating meat consumption all together could have devastating effects on developing nations and proposes a solution where countries meet in the middle with a tailored approach to tackling the challenges associated with livestock and combating climate change. 

Currently, 800 million people go hungry every year and 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Introducing or increasing animal proteins in these people’s diets can combat this. Additionally, a billion people earning less than US$2 a day around the world depend on livestock for their livelihoods. The sector represents 40% of the agricultural GDP of developing nations and as much as 60% in some poor countries. These are just a few of the staggering statistics on the importance of livestock covered in this fascinating article. To combat climate change it is going to take everyone, but it should be done in a manner that does not compromise the livelihoods and the food security of millions. Check out Polly Ericksen’s captivating article here


Sustainable Livestock, Sustainable Lives

On July 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the International Livestock Research Institutes side event and the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York. The side event was titled Sustainable Livestock, Sustainable Lives and it explored how to give livestock its rightful place in the SDG agenda. It highlighted how collaborations between researchers, government, farmers, civil society and the private sector contributes to support the livestock sector by creating sustainable, diverse and nutrition-enhancing food systems to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as supporting and promoting sustainable livestock and healthy diets.

Livestock is frequently a portal of entry for the landless and poor to economic production and household security. Domestic animals perform critical development functions through their contribution to nutritious diets, economic growth, poverty alleviation, and improved rural livelihoods. More than 1 billion people’s livelihoods depend on the livestock sector. Demand for animal-source products is expected to grow approximately twofold globally, and even more in low-income and emerging economies. Animal-source products - such as meat, dairy, and eggs – provide vital nutrition, particularly in the context of child and maternal health.

In order to be sustainable in its growth, the livestock sector needs to support livelihoods, contribute to enhancing economic and social well-being, protect public and animal health through the reduction of health threats to and from livestock, sustain natural resources and contribute to climate change mitigation. Livestock relates directly or indirectly to all SDGs. It most specifically helps deliver every target in Goal 2 of Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, as well as furthering Goal 1 in the fight against poverty, and Goal 3 on health. The Sustainable Development Goals are only achievable with the inclusion of livestock. To make the most of such opportunities, there is an urgent need to consult the livestock sector, increase awareness of policy-relevant investment needs and opportunities relating to the sector, and orienting policies, partnerships and investment in appropriate ways.


2016 Global Pulse Convention Recap

Between May 18 and 22nd I, along with the Emerging team traveled to Çeşme, Turkey, for the 2016 Global Pulse Convention. This conference had over 650 participants from all over the world participate in meetings and discussions regarding the pulse industry and the International Year of Pulses.

One of the meetings we helped organize was the national committees meeting. In this meeting, national committees presented on the amazing activities they had been working on, as well as collaborated with others to think of new and creative ways to get consumers involved with IYP2016.  It was fantastic to see the countless events these committees are hosting all over the world. Ranging from educational field day seminars, to galas, and to recipe books. Instead of describing each activity, below are a few highlights;


FOODEX is an event to showcase various products from the Food & Beverage industry. This year, the event took place in Japan on March 8th to the 11th. There was a World Pulses Booth to present the International Year of Pulses. For more information visit here.

blijeboonThe Netherlands has a stupendous food truck called "Blije Boon". The truck travels around the country giving out pulse samples and brochures to teach people about the great benefits of pulses and the wide variety of dishes they can be included in!

uk-falafelOn May 1st, the UK National Committee hosted the London Falafel Festival. The festival featured a competition to see who had the best falafel recipe in London. Learn more, and read about the winner here!


Argentina has developed a pulse based cookbook and is looking at developing one aimed towards children by the end of July!


The Canadian National Committee has been very active! Their activities range from developing a museum exhibit that travels around Canada featuring the benefits of pulses, to supporting the Pulse Pledge, to hosting the national Mission ImPULSEible competition!


Chile hosted a Dry Bean Field Day on January 27th! Learn more here!

These are just a few of the over 400 events that have happened and will happen all over the world! It is amazing to see how people have engaged in the Year and I cannot wait to see what else these amazing committees can think of.

World Health Day: Beat Diabetes!

Every year, the World Health Organization selects a priority area of global public health concern as the theme for World Health Day, which falls on 7 April, the birthday of the Organization. This year’s theme is diabetes, a noncommunicable disease (NCD) directly impacting millions of people of worldwide, generally in low- and middle-income countries.

Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose which may over time lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014 the global prevalence of diabetes was estimated to be 9% among adults over the age of 18. In 2012, it was estimated that 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle income countries.

The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing in the past few decades, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. Knowledge exists to reverse this trend through targeted prevention and appropriate care. A key to preventing type 2 diabetes is a healthy diet and this is where pulses can play an integral role. However, they are often overlooked in our diets. As nutrient-dense foods, pulses offer a wide range of health benefits. These benefits include:

  • High in dietary fibre, with approximately 15 grams of dietary fibre per cup and a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning that our bodies convert them to blood sugar more slowly and evenly;

  • A low-fat high protein source, comprised of 23% protein and only 1% fat with only about 250 calories per cup;

  • Packed with essential micronutrients, such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.

  • Pulses complement cereals to provide together full daily protein requirements.

With the developing world bearing the brunt of the impact of diabetes, pulses are an affordable and accessible source of nutrient dense food which can help manage diabetes. On April 1st, 2016 we will be launching the World’s Greatest Pulses dishes in conjunction with our new and improved pulses.org site. We encourage you to find a recipe you love and cook it on April 7th to help combat diabetes! Share this on social media with the #pulserecipes and #diabetes.

For more information on the International Year of Pulses, visit iyp2016.org.

The Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference kicks off in 2 Weeks

panafricaIn two weeks the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference kicks off. It is one of the 11 signature events we will see during the International Year of Pulses, the second in 2016. It has been amazing to see the momentum that has been building for IYP and its related events, evidence of this in over 600 abstract submissions for this conference. Of the abstracts accepted, 112 were assigned to topical oral sessions and approximately 390 to poster sessions.  This translates into approximately 500 abstracts of research on grain legumes (pulses) that will be presented!

This scientifically focused conference will cover some fascinating topics. One of the plenary sessions I find particularly interesting is titled “Ecological approaches to integrated pest management in grain Legumes”. According to the FAO, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides”. The FAO promotes IPM as the favoured approach to crop protection and regards it as a pillar of both sustainable growth of crop production and pesticide risk reduction. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

With our rapidly growing population, we will need to substantially increase food production and IPM will be a key component of this. For example, while pulses are an extremely sustainable crop that use less water, have a smaller carbon foot print and fix nitrogen in the soil, between 30-40% of pulse crops can be lost because of pests and diseases. This can be exacerbated by the fact that pulses are especially non-competitive crops. In the past we have focused on one or two kinds of technologies, particularly chemical pesticides, to manage pests and disease. Integrated Pest Management looks beyond this.

Signature events like the Joint Pan-African Legume and World Cowpea Conference, provide an opportunity to increase the awareness of issues faced by pulse farmers around the globe, and draw attention and resources to key areas of activity and research aimed at improving pulse productivity worldwide. This conference will provide a platform for scientists and individuals involved in the pulse value chain to exchange information and ideas which will improve pulse production.

For more information on the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference… Click here. Also, join the conversation by using the hashtags #Legumes4African and #LovePulses.

Fresh start with Emerging Ag

My first month with Emerging has gone by in the blink of an eye. Freshly out of grad school, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of such a global, high impact, and efficient company. I began my journey with Emerging in Rome for CFS 2015. There I got to meet face to face with the Emerging team. This experience has helped improve my communications with everyone since returning home. The team has been more than helpful with my onboarding process. While not my first time in a virtual office, it is a new experience in the sense this is a small global office. I like the fact that with a smaller team comes a more personal element to my work and because we have co-workers all over the globe it removes the typical 9-5 work day. This supports productivity, because generally, we have someone online around the clock. The amount of flexibility I have in where I live, and (within reason) when I start my day is a freeing experience.

Not having grown up in an agricultural family, it is fascinating to learn what goes into our food, both locally and globally. Attending CFS, I learned how dedicated both the private and public sector are to finding solutions to issues like climate change, food security, poverty, sustainability and more. It was great to see the private and public sector collaborating to develop innovative solutions to many of the problems we face today. I feel like I am just beginning to grasp how large the projects we work on are. These projects and the clients we work with have the potential to truly help people and positively impact the world. It is inspiring to work with a group full of passionate, hardworking, individuals. I look forward to meeting all of our clients and learning more about my co-workers.