NTI Celebrates 20 Years of Working to Build a Safer World

With rousing toasts to our leaders and co-founders and a future-focused panel discussion on the importance of innovation in building a safer world, the Nuclear Threat Initiative celebrated its 20th anniversary at its annual Board of Directors dinner in April.

In a video toast to NTI co-founder and Co-Chair Ted Turner, PBS’s Judy Woodruff noted that after founding CNN, “Ted didn’t stop there. … This man of outrageous ambition was driven by the simple goal of making the planet safe for humanity by tackling climate change, by trying to bring about peace through the largest gift ever to the United Nations, and at NTI, through joining with Sam Nunn, and leaders like the late Dick Lugar, and now Ernie Moniz, to try to address weapons that could obliterate much of humanity in a terrible second.”

“As we have been painfully reminded these past two months,” Woodruff added, “the work of NTI … is today more important than ever.”

In a separate video toast to co-founder and Co-Chair Sam Nunn, longtime NTI advisor and supporter Warren Buffett told the crowd that “Sam Nunn is a hero of mine … [who] should be a hero to really every citizen of the world, because Sam has worked tirelessly, effectively, [with] no personal glory of any sort, for decades, to try and prevent the world from essentially destroying itself.”

The 20th anniversary event was a long-time coming, held more than a year after the actual January 8, 2021 anniversary due to the global pandemic. Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, it also fell at a challenging time for global nuclear security.

“There’s always more to do, and right now, the situation in the world in both the nuclear and the bio spheres makes that an understatement,” NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz said. “We will continue to work towards the objectives that Ted and Sam put forward 20 years ago, and [despite] a few bumps in the road, we will get there. We have to get there.”

Moniz, Nunn, and NTI President Joan Rohlfing also expressed deep appreciation for NTI’s dedicated Board and staff, our generous supporters, and our many partners around the world—all of whom have made NTI’s work to reduce nuclear and biological threats possible. Moniz also shared a video about NTI that includes C-Span footage of Turner and Nunn speaking at a National Press Club news conference announcing NTI’s founding in 2001.

Following a round of toasts, including to Moniz and NTI’s two presidents, Charles B. Curtis (2001-2010) and Rohlfing (2010 to present), Cat Tully, founder of the School of International Futures in London, moderated a panel discussion on “Building a Safer World: Emerging Risks, New Technologies, and Where Innovation Can Take Us.” Joining Tully on the panel: Emma Belcher, president of Ploughshares Fund; James Diggans, head of biosecurity at Twist Bioscience; and Ellen Williams, distinguished professor and director of the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland.

Watch a video of the dinner toasts and other remarks here.

Watch a video of the panel discussion here.

Watch the NTI video here.

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