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SAPEA Call for Nomination of Experts: Towards Sustainable Food Consumption

SAPEA are seeking experts to sit on a new SAPEA Working Group on ’Towards Sustainable Food Consumption’.


The European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism provides independent and transparent scientific advice to the European Commission, working with the independent Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) to the European Commission and the SAPEA consortium.

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) comprises five European Academy Networks: AE, ALLEA, Euro-CASE, FEAM and YASAS– and brings together outstanding expertise in natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical, health, agricultural and social sciences, and the humanities from over 100 academies, young academies and learned societies in more than 40 countries across Europe.

The Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth and the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety has asked the GCSA to deliver advice on the topic of Sustainable Food Consumption by the second quarter of 2023, as it will feed into the revision of the Farm to Fork strategy from the middle of 2023 onwards. The main question to be answered by the GCSA is:

What tools could be used at EU level, in addition to those mentioned in the 2020 Farm to Fork Strategy, to overcome the barriers preventing consumers to adopt sustainable and healthy diets, fostering the necessary change towards sustainability in the food environment?

The Group’s advice should be based on an analysis that identifies the elements refraining consumers from making healthy and sustainable choices.

This request builds on previous advice delivered by the Scientific Advice Mechanism on A Sustainable Food System for the EU

To answer this question, the GCSA will draft a Scientific Opinion containing policy recommendations to the College of Commissioners. In order to inform this Opinion, SAPEA is requested to set up a Working Group to gather scientific evidence relevant to the topic and to synthesise it in an Evidence Review Report containing options for EU policy.

The Evidence Review Report will present evidence on the range of determinants that prevent consumers from making healthier and more sustainable food choices; will assess how EU policies and legislation address these barriers to healthier and more sustainable consumer choices; and formulate conclusions and evidence-based policy options on how to move towards healthier and more sustainable food consumption in the EU. The work can also present successful and emerging approaches on actions carried out at Member State level and Communities/Regions/Cities level that may be scaled up to EU level.

The call for nominations

SAPEA will set up an international and interdisciplinary Working Group of experts, covering the necessary fields, from the social sciences/humanities and also relevant natural sciences/technical fields. The Working Group will be chaired by Professor Erik Mathijs, Full Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at KU Leuven (Belgium) and Director of the SFERE (Sustainable Food Economies Research Group).

The request for advice focuses on consumer-behavioural aspects. However, due to the complex architecture of the food environment, a systemic, multi-level approach will also be required, with a consideration of interrelated economic, social, environmental and cultural factors.

Non-exclusive examples of areas of expertise that may be of relevance are provided below. The composition of the Working Group for the evidence review should represent the interdisciplinary expertise required:

  • Consumer psychology, consumer decision-making, consumer behaviour;
  • Agro-food marketing and retail management, including distribution channels, new product development and pricing policies with regard to food (or fast-moving consumer goods);
  • Digital marketing;
  • Socio-cultural retail studies;
  • Food industry structure;
  • Food supply chain;
  • Agricultural economics, including impact of prices and taxes on consumer demand;
  • Behavioural economics, including nudging and type-1 decision-making;
  • Hospitality management;
  • (EU) Food policy and legislation;
  • Anthropology, sociology, history, geography with a food and nutrition focus;
  • Cultural studies of food consumption;
  • Public health, behavioural nutrition, behavioural epidemiology;
  • Global food market and food consumption;
  • Consumer Food Science and Technology.

The experts will provide their input via physical and/or virtual meetings and are requested to produce a first draft of an Evidence Review Report by December/January 2022 and the final report by April 2023.

All selected experts will be required to complete a Declaration of Interests form that will be assessed by SAPEA before contributing to the scientific report.

Expected workload, support and timeline

Members of the Working Group (WG) are expected to:

  • Meet approximately once a month, or as appropriate between September/October 2022 and April 2023;
  • Draft the Evidence Review Report by writing relevant sections/chapters of the report, based on published evidence; the first draft of the Evidence Review Report is expected by January 2023;
  • Comment and review the whole report as a group at meetings and between meetings; • Consider the results of structured literature and policy landscape reviews on the topic, carried out in coordination with the WG, to inform their writing;
  • Write up evidence-based conclusions and suggest policy options, presented in a balanced and non-biased way;
  • Respond to the comments on the draft Evidence Review Report made by external experts at an expert workshop in February 2023- attendance of some members of the working group will be required;
  • Respond to the comments made by the peer reviewers of the Evidence Review Report in March/April 2023;
  • Be involved in stakeholder and public engagement work (such as meetings, conferences, events), as appropriate and upon request, following delivery of the report.

Invited experts may need to be able to reserve the equivalent of approximately half a day per week for this work, although this can vary between members depending on the size of the contribution and other factors.

Criteria for selection of members to the international Working Group

A SAPEA-appointed Selection Committee will select the experts according to demonstrated excellence in one or more of the fields listed in the Call, and other criteria such as:

  • Interdisciplinarity, all relevant disciplines should be included;
  • Wide geographical coverage of Europe;
  • Participation of underrepresented gender in SAPEA Working Groups of at least 40%;
  • Inclusion of early career scientists;
  • Commitment and time-availability.

There should be a good diversity of technical, professional, and scientific experts, ranging from highly focused specialists to generalists, from well-established to early-career career stage, and as socially, culturally and gender balanced as possible. Please note that nomination does not guarantee selection to the Working Group. The average success rate is around 20%.

SAPEA Working Group members will need to fill in the Standard Declaration of Interests form of the European Commission. Further information about SAPEA Quality Assurance Procedures can be found here:

To be nominated by the Royal Irish Academy

To express an interest in being nominated by the Royal Irish Academy, please submit the following two documents to by midday on August 25 2022:

  1. a detailed Curriculum Vitae, and
  2. a short explanation of how you meet the areas of expertise needed.

This opportunity is publicly advertised by the Royal Irish Academy.

All expressions of interest received will be considered by the Academy’s Policy Oversight Group- the unit tasked with advising upon the initiation and implementation of all of the Academy’s policy and international activities and responsible for overseeing a standardised quality process for all outputs. Chaired by the Academy’s Secretary of Policy and International Relations, the six members of this group are all elected Members of the Royal Irish Academy and come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds in several institutions across the island of Ireland- both north and south of the border. On occasions, the Policy Oversight Group may also consult additional experts to inform their assessments and evaluations.

The Royal Irish Academy values diversity and strives for a culture of equality and inclusion in all of its activities. As outlined in its Strategic Plan 2019-2023, the Academy is committed to ensuring greater gender, disciplinary, institutional and overall diversity in every area of the Academy and its work throughout the island of Ireland. It particularly welcomes nominations from under-represented groups and communities.

As women are underrepresented in the Academy’s participation in international collaborative activities, nominations of women are particularly welcome.


SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) comprises the five European Academy Networks: AE, ALLEA, Euro-CASE, FEAM and YASAS and brings together outstanding expertise from natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical, health, agricultural and social sciences, and the humanities. We draw on over a hundred academies, young academies and learned societies in more than 40 countries across Europe. SAPEA is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. Together with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, we provide independent scientific advice to European Commissioners to support their decision-making. We also work to raise awareness of scientific advice and evidence in policymaking, and to stimulate debate in Europe about these issues. SAPEA is funded by the European Union.

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