Alumni of the week

Fighting the food system

Arne O’Donoghue

Senior Engagement Officer


MSc in Political Economy

“One of the most important decisions we make is what we put on our plates.”

Arne O’Donoghue was already recycling and composting 30 years ago. Today he fights for a better food future at EAT.

What’s on your agenda just now?
I am working on the January 2019 launch of the report from the ‘EAT Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’. It will, for the first time ever, define what is a healthy and sustainable diet for people and the planet.

What is the purpose of EAT?
EAT is dedicated to transforming the global food system. Food production is not only the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is also our number one global health challenge. EAT connects science, policy, business and civil society to find systemic solutions for our broken food system.

Tell us more about EAT’s challenges?
The psychology of consumerism. We need to shift consumer mindsets to healthier and more sustainable options. The livestock lobby is also incredibly powerful and certainly a major obstacle to food system transformation. Enormous subsidies don’t help either.

When did your commitment to sustainability begin?
I grew up in the countryside with parents who encouraged us to take care of the environment around us. We were recycling, composting and picking up plastic on beaches 30 years ago.

Have you had any role models for your career?
Plenty. One of the cool things about working in a multi-stakeholder space is the people you meet. Whether it’s a new intern, a passionate scientist, a CEO or even a Head of State, you always learn something.

In your opinon, what can be done to improve the world?
This is not my idea, but it’s so important I want to share it. Knowing that food connects human health to the health of the planet. One of the most important decisions we make is what we put on our plates.

How has your education at BI helped you?
When I moved to Norway, I had every intention of returning to Ireland after graduating. Ten years later I’m still here – much thanks to the friends I made at BI. They are also an invaluable source of professional advice.