A Year of Unprecedented Urgency: Introducing the 2022 NTI Annual Report
Last year was full of extraordinary challenges to nuclear and biological security.
From Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine and nuclear threats to the ongoing devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the events of 2022 brought unparalleled urgency to NTI’s crucial mission.
From the start of the war, NTI has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce nuclear dangers and strategic risks associated with the war, to bring an end to the fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and to reestablish pathways toward nuclear risk reduction and disarmament.
Our second annual #CranesForOurFuture campaign, a joint effort with the prefectures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reached more than 20 million people and included participation from cultural influencers like Yoko Ono, George Takei, and the Indigo Girls; activists, authors, and artists; more than 70 organizations; global security leaders; and members of Congress.
Our biosecurity work continues to address a critical global priority: preventing the next pandemic, which could be even worse than COVID-19. Our NTI | bio team has worked globally to create a new mechanism to rapidly identify the origins of high-consequence biological events. NTI | bio also made important progress toward the official launch in 2023 of a new, independent organization, the International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS), to ensure that biotechnology and bioscience can flourish safely and responsibly.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, setting off a series of nuclear threats and provocations that have brought the world closer to the brink of nuclear weapons use than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. As Vladimir Putin waged an increasingly risky campaign—putting nuclear power plants in the line of fire, making unfounded accusations about biological weapons programs, and breaking a long-held taboo against threatening to use nuclear weapons—NTI’s experts led the way on explaining the stakes and promoting safe and peaceful outcomes for Ukraine and the world.
In May, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continued infecting people across the globe, cases of Monkeypox appeared in the United Kingdom, and rapidly, the number of infections grew to tens of thousands worldwide. NTI experts called for greater investments in prevention, preparedness, and response, warning that the next biological event—whether from a naturally occurring virus, a deliberate act, or a lab accident—could be even more severe.
NTI achieved a major policy win in 2022 that will help ensure that a failure in our nuclear weapons systems won’t result in a civilization-disrupting catastrophe. The Biden administration initiated a nuclear “fail-safe” review—a study of U.S. nuclear weapons and command, control, and communications systems and processes aimed at identifying policy and procedural steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use by accident or miscalculation, including as a result of a cyberattack.
This initiative—the first comprehensive review since the 1990s—is the direct result of more than two years of advocacy. Sam Nunn, Ernie Moniz, and NTI experts promoted the idea privately with members of Congress and senior administration officials and publicly, including through a 2021 Washington Post op-ed penned by Nunn and Moniz, “Biden should do more to prevent the accidental launch of nuclear weapons. Here’s how.”
Thanks to NTI, Congress mandated the review in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the Biden administration embraced it in its Nuclear Posture Review.
I welcome the administration’s … plan to commission an independent nuclear ‘fail-safe’ review to strengthen safeguards against false warnings, blunders, mistakes, or unintentional use of nuclear weapons."— Sam Nunn, NTI Co-Chair
Now, with the review underway, NTI has been asked to help shape the process and will continue working to ensure the review is thorough and yields actionable recommendations to reduce the risk of nuclear use by accident or miscalculation. NTI also is working to encourage other nuclear weapons states, including Russia, to undertake similar reviews.
GHS Index Impact
In September, NTI celebrated a major step forward for global health security with the establishment of the World Bank’s Pandemic Preparedness Fund, the first global financing mechanism focused primarily on building pandemic prevention, detection, and response capacity in low- and middle- income countries.
Creating new funding streams to fill preparedness gaps was a key recommendation of the inaugural GHS Index in 2019, and NTI | bio, working in partnership with the Pandemic Action Network, played an instrumental role in the fund’s conception, development, and launch. Now that the fund is operational, the GHS Index can help Pandemic Fund decisionmakers prioritize investments and allocate resources based on data about the most important capacity gaps. Data from the GHS Index also can help countries build strong funding proposals and measure the impact of investments.
In the United States, the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress recognized the GHS Index as a valuable resource to guide US. global health security investments and suggested that the U.S. government use the GHS Index to inform prioritization and funding decisions for the Pandemic Fund.
Engaging New Audiences in Our Work
To build a coalition that can help make nuclear weapons a thing of the past, NTI is focused on reaching younger and more diverse audiences. In 2022, NTI worked with a firm to seed new content on GIPHY, the internet’s second largest search engine and the largest public repository of short, animated digital graphics commonly called GIFs. We ran a small pilot, creating and posting 27 pro-nuclear-disarmament GIFs.
People texting or sharing on social media can find these GIFs by using search words like “nukes” or “nuclear weapons.” NTI’s GIFs have been viewed or shared 40 million times. Importantly, positive messages like “We are the generation that will end the nuclear threat” and “No nukes y’all” are bumping mushroom clouds out of view.
NTI also worked with creators on TikTok and YouTube—engaging a diverse cadre of micro-influencers to develop content highlighting modern nuclear risks, share stories about inspiring figures who have helped reduce nuclear dangers, and call on their followers to do their part to build a safer future without nuclear weapons. The TikToks, focused on #CranesForOurFuture and our cyber-nuclear work, have been viewed nearly 2.5 million times by people in our target audience.
NTI celebrated 20 years of progress and achievement at our annual Board of Directors dinner in April. The event, postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured inspiring toasts and tributes as well as a future-focused panel discussion on the importance of innovation in building a safer world.
Longtime NTI supporter and advisor Warren Buffett called NTI Co-Founder Sam Nunn “one of his heroes” in a moving tribute, and PBS’ Judy Woodruff hailed NTI Co-Chair Ted Turner as “one of the most consequential figures of our time.”
Sam Nunn is a hero of mine ... Sam has worked tirelessly, effectively … for decades to try to prevent the world from essentially destroying itself.— Warren E. Buffett, NTI Advisor
We are extraordinarily grateful to the foundations, families, and individuals who put their trust in NTI by providing financial support, including: Warren Buffett, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Effective Giving, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Philanthropy, Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
We face some serious headwinds on nuclear and biological risk reduction, but our mission—and our work—is more urgent than ever.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on nuclear and biological threats.