Background and Objectives
The ILSI Europe Emerging Issues Process is a new initiative whereby all interested parties were given the opportunity to engage more directly with ILSI Europe by suggesting strategic scientific issues for the future. These emerging scientific topics, relevant to a wide range of stakeholders, could then be proactively tackled by ILSI Europe.
Dreamt up by our Board of Directors (BOD) while on a strategic retreat in 2014, this new process allowed ILSI Europe to identify priority issues for the future. In this way, we can develop effective solutions and strategies in response to these. This is in line with our vision to build multi-stakeholder science-based solutions for a more sustainable and healthier world.
Identification and Prioritisation of Issues
To set the wheels in motion, in June 2015, the BOD invited the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) to develop a questionnaire. ILSI Europe’s office then surveyed 1108 stakeholders who are / were all involved in our activities or represent national or international organisations, including experts from industry, academia and government. In total, almost 60 different topics were suggested. These topics were submitted to ILSI Europe task forces who were invited to identify the ones which could fall under their own scientific agenda.
The SAC reviewed the list of suggested topics and highlighted four topics of key interest, namely ‘Big Data Analysis’, ‘Food Waste’, ‘Consumer Behaviour Determinants’ and ‘New Contaminants’. The former Emerging Issues Committee (EIC), composed of members from the BOD and the SAC, then developed its Terms of Reference including the criteria used to select and prioritise the 60 topics suggested by surveyed stakeholders.
EIC members then followed the SAC’s suggestion and decided to develop three topics addressing ‘Big Data Analysis’, ‘Food Waste’, and ‘Consumer Behaviour Determinants’. Volunteering champions elaborated on these topics and prepared ‘scoping papers’. Based on this information, EIC members then ranked the three selected topics. The topic ‘Consumer Behaviour Determinants’ was ranked first and the topic ‘Food Waste’ was ranked second. Details of both are below.
Status of the Upcoming Activity on ‘Consumer Behaviour Determinants’
The topic on ‘Consumer Behaviour Determinants’ has been further developed by Prof. Lynn Frewer (Newcastle University, UK), Prof. Klaus Grunert (Aarhus University, DK) and Prof. Wim Verbeke (Ghent University, BE) into a New Activity Proposal (NAP) focusing on ‘Nudging and Sustainable Changes towards Healthier Food Choices’. The purpose of this activity would be to review the literature on nudging when applied to food choices, and to provide conclusions on what is known and not known on nudging effects. In particular, the evidence on if and when nudging can lead to long-term behavioural changes will be assessed. This NAP is currently undergoing the same stringent review process as any other ILSI Europe NAP. Once reviewed and approved, the new activity will be carried out for a year. It will be funded from ILSI Europe seed money in 2016 and through the voluntary support scheme as indicated in the Financial Agreement Form sent to all member companies.
Potential New Activity on ‘Food Waste’
As the topic on ‘Food Waste’ was ranked second in the Emerging Issues Process and, as several member companies expressed a high interest in it, ILSI Europe proactively initiated discussions with experts from H2020 projects we are involved in. Additional experts from well-known relevant organisations also joined forces with ILSI Europe to elaborate on sustainability-related research gaps. The purpose of a new activity on food waste could be to gain insight into the causal pathways leading to consumer food waste. It would ultimately help us to develop evidence-based intervention strategies to effectively address the challenge of food waste.