Clementine O’Connor

Food Programme Consultant in UNEP’s Division of Trade, Industry and Economics

Clementine O’Connor

Clementine O’Connor

Clementine has recently joined UNEP’s Sustainable Food Systems team to help build global strategy for food waste prevention via the Think.Eat.Save initiative. Her role will focus on launching and piloting UNEP’s new Guidance document on food waste prevention strategy for businesses and households. She is on sabbatical from BIO by Deloitte, where she leads sustainable food consultancy, most recently identifying legal barriers to the redistribution of food surplus in the EU.

Clementine has a long history tackling resource efficiency in the food cycle, undertaking the baseline quantification of food waste in the EU, contributing to the FAO Global Food Wastage Footprint, developing policy recommendations for the European Commission and the European Parliament, and as a leading partner in the pan-European research project FUSIONS.

3 Questions to… Clementine O’Connor

1. Which aspect of the food waste problem is the most relevant?

Food waste is a global market failure to feed people with existing resources. It has diverse and complex causes across cultures and global supply chains. It requires measurement, collaborative action, and behaviour change, in order that our biodiversity, land and water resources can be used regeneratively, and that 840 million people do not go hungry each day in a world of plenty.

2. And what should be done to improve things in this field?

What are we already doing?

We have now demonstrated the substantial environmental impacts of food waste, through the FAO Food Wastage Footprint. We are progressing towards a global Protocol for food waste quantification, in work led by the World Resources Institute, so that progress can be measured against global and local baselines.

The Think.Eat.Save initiative is catalyzing public awareness and understanding of food waste around the world, reaching an estimated 12.4 million people on World Environment Day alone.UNEP is launching this month a Guidance document enabling countries and businesses to design and deliver food waste prevention strategies, via consumer engagement, changes to products, packaging and labelling, and voluntary collective action programmes for business.

FUSIONS is demonstrating the potential for social innovation to generate new ideas and deploy local solutions to food waste. These are especially successful in helping surplus food reach hungry bellies, wherever that surplus may arise.
We have foundations for lasting change. We need to follow through, coherently and robustly, on these incipient actions. And at consumer level, we are still missing a clear vision of the food use behaviours that lead to waste in a variety of cultures, so that we can respond to this global problem with a sufficiently nuanced global solution. 

3. Do you know SAVE FOOD initiative already and which role does the Initiative SAVE FOOD play in fighting food losses and food waste in your opinion?

SAVE FOOD has a critical role in building momentum for collaborative action. Since its launch, it has developed a global partnership of public and private sector actors that joined forces around a declaration to fight against food loss and waste around the world. This partnership could provide a foundation for measurement and much needed cross-supply chain action.

SAVE FOOD also responds to knowledge gaps by conducting research on practical and technical needs to prevent food losses, often in less well addressed regional or national contexts.