Food Assistance Amid Emergency Responses: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Awarded the 2021 INFORMS Edelman Award

CATONSVILLE, MD, April 13, 2021 – INFORMS, the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals, announced it has awarded The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) its 2021 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research and Management Science for its use of operations research (O.R.) to master food assistance amid emergency responses. 

WFP is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, assisting nearly 100 million people across 88 countries. As the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the responsible use of innovation and technology transforms the way WFP saves and changes lives in emergencies, and long-term development programs that build strong and resilient communities. The program enables WFP to help and empower more people faster and more cost-effectively than ever before, building a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for those recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. 

“Analytics help us stretch each and every dollar as far as possible,” said Amir Abdulla, WFP deputy executive director. “We must continue to explore and to scale up these powerful technologies to close the hunger gap as the world continues to face one of the greatest humanitarian challenges in history.” 

“Our investment in the use of data and analytics has revolutionized the way that we do our work,” said Alex Marianelli, WFP director of supply chain. “Over the last 15 years we’ve seen a drastic evolution in the way that we can use analytics to plan our supply chain in environments that are very difficult to plan within.”

In partnership with Palantir Technologies, UPS, Tilburg University and Georgia Tech, WFP has used data and analytics to streamline and accelerate complex operations in some of the most remote corners of the world. 

First awarded in 1972, the Franz Edelman Award recognizes and rewards outstanding contributions of analytics and O.R. in the for- and nonprofit sectors around the globe. Each year, INFORMS honors finalist teams that have improved organizational efficiency, increased profits, brought better products to consumers, helped foster peace negotiation and saved lives. Since its inception, the cumulative dollar benefits from Edelman finalist projects has surpassed $302 billion.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received the Edelman Award this evening at the Edelman Award Ceremony during the Virtual 2021 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference. 


Franz Edelman Award Finalists

In addition to WFP, five other organizations were finalists for this year’s Franz Edelman Award: 

  • Alibaba for “Alibaba VRP Algorithms Have Enabled Its On-time Hour-level Delivery”
  • for “Operations Research Optimization Algorithms Drive Unmanned Warehouse Robots to Work”
  • Lenovo for “Advanced Planning and Scheduling in Large Manufacturing Plants Using Reinforcement Learning”
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering for “Automated Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Planning”
  • OCP for “The Impact of Analytics on OCP”

Additional information about the 2021 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award finalists and competition can be found at:



With more than 12,000 members from around the world, INFORMS is the largest international association of operations research (O.R.) and analytics professionals and students. INFORMS provides unique networking and learning opportunities for individuals and organizations to better understand and use O.R. and analytics tools and methods to save lives, save money, and solve problems. 





Ashley Smith


[email protected]

Food Assistance Amid Emergency Responses: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Awarded the 2021 INFORMS Edelman Award

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Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator
Catonsville, MD
[email protected]

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