ROME, ITALY — The National Geographic Society and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are teaming up to raise awareness on food and agriculture issues as National Geographic, a U.S.-based nonprofit institution, begins an eight-month, in-depth report on food issues starting with a May cover story in National Geographic magazine and online

The official launch of the collaboration was marked by a three-day event May 2-4 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S. The event started with an afternoon panel discussion, Food: A Forum, which will highlight issues of food security and sustainability. The event will be live-streamed at

The panel discussion was followed by a two-day Future of Food Hackathon May 3 and 4, during which scientists, data journalists and programmers developed apps and tools to address solutions for feeding the planet by exploring broad FAO data sets that shed light on food distribution, transportation, costs and environmental legacy over the last 50 years.

From May through December, FAO experts will provide perspective and data for National Geographic’s food coverage, which includes in-depth articles in the magazine each month and additional features on the website. Both organizations will share content and participate in related events to help educate and promote awareness about hunger and nutrition. 

Among the themes that will be addressed are food and agricultural statistics and trends, feeding megacities in a world of changing demographics, reducing food loss and waste, the role of animal and insect protein in diets, and global forestry issues.

“Combining FAO’s specialized expertise with National Geographic’s 126 years of award-winning photography and reporting is very exciting, and this agreement will help bring up-to-date information about hunger and nutrition challenges and solutions to a very wide public audience,” said Mehdi Drissi, FAO chief of media relations. 

National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, is read by more than 60 million people each month in 40 languages, while the Society’s digital media receives more than 27 million visitors a month.

“Reporting on food is a natural extension of our coverage of water, population and environmental issues,” said Chris Johns, editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine. “We believe offering clear-eyed information about issues surrounding this essential topic is an important service to our audiences, and we are thrilled to partner with FAO, an organization that is on the front lines working in this area.”

The two organizations plan to collaborate on a number of initiatives throughout the year, including the Committee on World Food Security (Oct. 13-18), World Food Day (Oct. 16), the Second International Conference on Nutrition (Nov. 19-21) and the International Year of Family Farming that runs throughout 2014.

National Geographic editorial staff met with senior FAO experts in Rome in February to gather information for the series and develop a framework of collaboration that will be formalised with the signing of a memorandum of understanding later this year. 

The Future of Food series is the latest in a number of large-scale National Geographic investigations that have included energy, climate, water and population.