Using the Whole Whale - A Nonprofit Podcast

War Crimes Tracked by NGOs & Pending Food Crisis (news)

April 5, 2022

War In Ukraine Threatens Global Food Security, Likely To Exacerbate Food Emergencies Among Vulnerable Populations

 

According to reporting from The New York Times, the war in Ukraine threatens global food security on a large scale. Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly 30% of the global wheat supply and serve as a vital supplier of fertilizer, grain, barley, sunflower oil, and many other basic food staples. In addition to food security challenges within Ukraine, already vulnerable countries in the Middle East and North Africa (countries especially reliant on exported foodstuffs from the war-torn region) find themselves in an increasingly precarious situation. Over half of the World Food Programme’s wheat comes from Ukraine, and emergency food programs in Yemen and other African countries may be forced to prioritize the starving over the hungry. Compounded by sky-high global food prices, supply chain issues, regional conflict, and natural disasters like drought, many food-insecure countries may end up in large-scale food emergencies as the war continues.

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NGOs, Nonprofits, Governments, International Organizations & Citizen Journalists Come Together To Document War Crimes In Ukraine

In an unusual alliance across many different actors, a multitude of organizations and outlets are working tirelessly to document war crimes in Ukraine. Human Rights Watch, an international human rights watchdog group and nonprofit with international headquarters in New York City, has launched a full-scale investigation into war crimes amidst newly reported revelations in Bucha, Ukraine. Large-scale citizen journalism efforts, including those produced by investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat will be essential to efforts to prosecute war crimes in international bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab is one of many more NGOs documenting crimes. (Content Warning: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch’s reporting includes specific details of war crimes and indiscriminate violence against civilians and may be disturbing to readers.)

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Summary

 

Transcript:

[00:00:00] This week on the nonprofit newsfeed, we are talking about the second order effects of the war in Ukraine, as well as how nonprofits and international organizations working with journalism's are working on documentation of the war crimes and terrible stories coming out of this crisis.

[00:00:17] Yeah, George, that's a great introduction. Our first story is about global food security and how the war and is. Threatening to exacerbate food emergencies across the world. So according to reporting from the New York times, the on Ukraine is threatening global food security on a large scale Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly

[00:00:38] 30% of the global wheat supply and serve as a vital supplier of things like fertilizer, grain, barley, sunflower oil, and other basic food staples that are essential to the global food infrastructure. In addition to food security challenge. Within Ukraine that is now a food insecure country, already vulnerable communities across the globe, particularly in the middle east and north Africa are finding themselves in an increasingly precarious situation. The world food program estimates that over half of its wheat comes from Ukraine and in an interview the director of the, the world food program said that.

[00:01:20] And emergency situations and Yemen, humanitarian organizations are being forced to prioritized the starving over the hungry compounded by sky high global food prices,

[00:01:33] supply chain issues, the rising price of oil and gasoline, regional conflict, and even natural disasters. Many food insecure countries. That are currently facing problems because of the war in Ukraine, maybe facing large scale food emergencies as the war continues. And it seems like The downstream effects of this war could have wringing implications for months to come. And I think this is vitally important that we sound the alarm on because it's one of those things that's less visible. It's less flashy than a war, but could have serious, serious humanitarian implications.

[00:02:12] The report also talks about these other contributing factors and the big one being involved. For example, in east Africa. Where they're saying that just, you know, due to droughts there, that they're just simply not keeping up with the amount of food and the shortage of food. And in and around Kenya actually led to like 1.5 million livestock being, being killed.

[00:02:38] So, you know, It just, it adds up, but one of the things is looking at a problem before it happens. I think we're starting to see some reporting around that, but it's something that, you know, non-profits in journalism working on it to say like, Hey, you know, this is going to be a huge problem. If things. Planted right now on top of that, you look at potential impacts on farmers due to inflation, not wanting to overinvest in that huge capital outlay.

[00:03:04] And it may be more than just capital markets, which find efficiencies, but actually like humanitarian markets saying that, no, literally we know it may not be profitable for you to plant, you know, twice as much wheat, but we kind of need it where you can get it.

[00:03:19] Absolutely. Yesterday the episode of the daily from the New York times was about this very issue. And the lead journalist on that story was from reporting from Brazil, where the Brazilian government as been for us to be extremely proactive because the majority of their fertilizer comes from the region and advising farmers

[00:03:41] that they are going to have to start potentially rationing, rationing fertilizer. So exactly to your point, the economics of this get really complex.

[00:03:48] It's disturbing to read a line such as the prioritization of starving over the hungry. It's a type of global triaged that just felt like unimaginable five years ago, because we produced technically as, you know, a globe more food. And it was more about the distribution, right? The problem of last mile. How do we make sure that this bit of grain makes it to.

[00:04:12] Final person on the ground and it was just resource allocation and now potentially a scarcity of resource.

[00:04:17] Yeah. that's a good point. And it makes the, the downstream effects of that of of course are tragic, but focusing more on what's happening in Ukraine itself over the weekend, there's been outcry over videos and images showing. Just absolutely horrific war crimes and violence against civilians in the surrounding areas.

[00:04:41] The suburbs of Kiev and the story here is that NGOs non-profits governments, international organizations, and even citizen journalists are teaming up. And creating a sort of Alliance to try to document these war crimes, which will be really important. So the, the story here focuses on human rights watch, which is an international human rights watchdog.

[00:05:05] They're a non-profit they're headquartered out of New York city. They've launched a full scale investigation into war crimes. There's also large-scale citizen journalism efforts, including those produced by investigative journalists, journalism, outcast outlet, belling, cat. And these are going to be essential to documenting these crimes and attempting to prosecute them and international bodies like the international criminal court. Amnesty international also has a crisis evidence, lab, lots of different nonprofits and NGOs are stepping up to fill the void here because if you're prosecuting crimes, many of which are just almost too horrific to talk about on this podcast. You need evidence and it's very clear that the nonprofit, NGO community and civil society community, not even just internationally, but within Ukraine itself are stepping up to try to document these crimes. T to bring justice to the perpetrator.

[00:06:02] Yeah. I mean, it's kind of weird maybe to talk about the laws of war. However, there are laws of war which prohibit willful killing, rape, and other sexual violence, torture, inhumane treatment, capture combatants and civilians in custody, pillage and looting. And, you know, frankly it's needs to be recorded.

[00:06:23] And I think one of the things that we're watching is the most documented and recorded war in known history. And you know, is to say that you have a lot, a lot more eyes on this and a lot more technology distributed into the hands of the people who are living this nightmare in a, in a way that. Just not been seen before.

[00:06:48] And, you know, it leads to, you know, we put a content warning on this that leads to a lot of intense reporting and then live sort of alleged it, which I think is important because there is there is a propaganda game also going on right now. Make no mistake. There are narratives that all of the parties involved are trying to push and support with documentations.

[00:07:11] It's extra important that you've got verifying bodies such as the amnesty International's and human rights watches that can truly verify that like, this is, you know, this is not about helping Ukraine in ratchet up sanctions against Russia in the moment, but rather documentation of, of what's actually going on, which, which is, which is tough.

[00:07:36] Yeah.

[00:07:37] I think that's true. And when you dig into this. If You read some of these articles, I think you'll find that doing this is actually quite challenging. It's quite challenging to prove that a photo or video was

[00:07:48] taken where, and when it is purported to have been taken. And it looks like this conflict is one of the first conflicts where there's apparatuses in place. Do kind of. Document that material in a legally sound way.

[00:08:07] I mean, obviously you can't just like snap a shot of your photo. Like, what does that actually mean, do you know how that works ?

[00:08:12] There's so not to get too nerdy into

[00:08:16] No, I'll go nerdy. I asked it, I called it.

[00:08:19] There, from what I remember there's a protocol, a 2020 protocol. So kind of like guidelines produced by , one of the universities out of California, Berkeley

[00:08:30] UCLA, or something like that..

[00:08:32] And it outlines a process of due diligence for proving that this. A van tap in somewhere and it's kind of like a roadmap and actually the journalism outlet here Bellingcat is very well-regarded within this, this space. And they also have really, really rigid processes and documentation for how you have to verify essentially photos. They. Whether it's Google maps, they're using satellite imagery, video timestamps.

[00:09:02] There's lots of different things. And it goes through lots of different review. Unfortunately, academics think that even with all that, it's still may have a hard time standing up and in front of an international court, like the ICC, but it's really interesting. And I think this is one of the ways that tech is filling a void in a way that it never has before. When it comes to potential. Producing evidence of war crimes in this way. it's it's really as, as tragic as it is. It's really interesting to see how tech is being used in this, in this.

[00:09:36] I feel that it can feel like you're wait a minute. Like, how is this helping the moment? And you're like, how can you be documenting something during your presentation? You know, getting out there and just raising what you can to, to help support refugees and whatnot. What's important is to take the long view and to make sure that there is a established and enforced global policy of what is socially at a global level acceptable.

[00:10:04] One of the things that has to be done is what is the true impact of this long-term because guess what? This is not the last time. Some, you know, somebody believes they're their, their destiny is to, is to acquire land once held long ago. If you go. You know, it, it was all held by the dinosaurs and they should launch an attack.

[00:10:24] So how do you make it so that the global theater looks at this punish as it documents it and make sure that that is brought into the calculus of doing this the next time, which is a terrible thing to say, but the work of doing this right now is so important when you look back because it will build into the potential global deterring, bombing your neighbors.

[00:10:46] So.

[00:10:47] Absolutely. And when you look at the history of this, it really stems from the Nuremberg trials in which the team of lawyers with frankly, no jurisdiction had to make claims saying that these crimes were So.

[00:11:02] atrocious, that it requires something beyond what any single country's judicial system could offer. To your point. It's so important that we have this, and of course it's not perfect. It's far from perfect. But every chance we get to document these crimes will be one more deterrent against them happening in the future.

[00:11:22] That's right.

[00:11:22] All right. What do we have on the summary?

[00:11:25] This is going back to Ukraine, but in a very different way, we reported on this a couple of weeks ago that the video game fortnight would be donating their in-app purchase revenue to Ukraine. We read that story with amusement. Two weeks after they announced that

[00:11:44] Fortnight and its developers have given $144 million to relief efforts and Ukraine, that is an amazing sum of money for one in video games. At purchases that boggles my mind. But to, that's an incredible amount of money in a humanitarian emergency like this. And I'm really interested to see what video game makers and companies, if, if there is a way to make this sustainable, because if you can, if you can turn video game usage and to humanitarian support, that seems like you're onto something, but this is truly incredible.

[00:12:22] I was not expecting.

[00:12:23] I mean, that's you, we covered it with interest, but this. You know, it, it fails description talking about, you know, it's clear that this is their bottom line revenue. This is not like percent of proceeds. Like this is the difference between, oh, we're sending 1% of all sales. Like this is what happens when you just change the spicket from, you know, pointing to your bank account to a social cause.

[00:12:47] And it is it's incredible. And hopefully makes you realize that, you know, These communities are very, very powerful when mobilized. And this is just just the beginning. I think of how, you know, the online game, like think about it for a second. And the online game built around, frankly, people shooting at each other is mimicked war.

[00:13:08] Actually saying like, no, no, no. It should stay in the game. And their response is pretty incredible. And what's more in this in this news article and, you know, they announced it on Twitter and frankly, the PR representatives of fortnight added that the company is just not taking further interviews on the subject and they just are referring people to the, to the website regarding the relief effort.

[00:13:33] I mean, take a, take a beat and think about how. Sadly, how often when a company does a, a good deed like this, they just like, all right, now let's spend twice that amount on the PR and media push that goes associated with making sure the entire world knows what we just did. And this is the absolute opposite of.

[00:13:53] Absolutely. I agree if this is a model for corporate social responsibility, I'm in. Maybe I can be converted

[00:14:03] Yeah,

[00:14:03] if given me skeptical

[00:14:04] I'll buy a fortnight skin, I guess.

[00:14:07] I will too. I was going to add a fortnight related joke, but

[00:14:12] I have

[00:14:12] play, do you play, have you ever played Fortnite? Here's a question. Have you ever played.

[00:14:15] know.

[00:14:16] So I, I have a, I don't actively play, but I did get into it because I realized how big the ecosystem was. And I did play it. I get it. It's fun. It's pretty social. You're definitely like getting along with teammates and talking with people.

[00:14:31] So it's far more far more of a community, I think, than people may realize. And you play with people internationally, you dropped into these battle. Royales with a bunch of random people. And you're placed on a team and then suddenly you're cooperating and you're running around with somebody who's, you know, may have is probably of a different background than yours.

[00:14:51] That's really interesting. You bring that up video games. Video games are very democratic in that way. And I think like harnessed back to my point, harness correctly can really lead to cross-cultural understanding and and potentially humanitarian outcomes. I, I think there's, there's a lot of potential. Oh, all right. I can leave this into our next story. This one is titled in a David versus Goliath battle between NGOs and a pipeline company. Goliath is losing and this article. Is about how essentially small nonprofits and NGOs and Virginia and West Virginia are fighting oil pipelines and through various legal challenges versus us fish and wildlife and various companies and various pipelines are winning. So there's, there's different pipelines. There's the mountain valley pipeline that it talks about. There's that equal. Equity trans midstream pipeline. I didn't pronounce that. Right. Those developers have invested $2.5 billion in this project, but an NGO in that case called wild Virginia, a conservation organization is putting up quite a fight. This seems like a, a movie or some sort. I think I've seen this movie before. But just really interesting. And just going to highlight the important role. Advocacy and conservation organizations when it comes to protecting our environment. And it goes back and touches on so many other themes that we've talked about, whether it's you know, indigenous access to land and preserving all sorts of different cultural heritage and environmental sustainability, environmental justice and racism elements. It's a good story. We recommend reading it from Forbes, but really interesting.

[00:16:45] I think the timing of it also, you're going to see, you know, probably it's not the most popular moment with gas prices rising and frankly, Russia using it as its biggest key of leverage to, to, to attack and saying like, wait a minute, you know, have, have, you know, like what the, the immediacy of how much.

[00:17:08] And gas production that's probably needed right now to, to stop to stop. Russia is also has to be balanced with the long-term impacts of saying we needed to make, to put as many headwinds as possible for the continuation of a carbon based energy. Policy, and it's tough to balance. Like right now, I gotta be honest.

[00:17:31] I'd be much happier if you know, environmental movement in Germany have allowed for a lot less dependency on oil and gas from. From Russia and these are hard conversations and, you know, I respect the people that have the long view and can maintain the long view, as opposed to saying like in this one moment of crisis.

[00:17:51] Yeah. It would make a lot of sense to get as much oil, frankly, slowing as humanly possible from the stores where they're kept. So that. Avoid this disaster. The problem is always, you know, fighting the battles of the day, ignorant of the war the larger war of tomorrow, which is truly environmental the environmental stakes which are huge and have of course social justice elements as well.

[00:18:15] Cause we we can be hurting a lot of communities on the way to doing that.

[00:18:18] Yeah, I think that's a great synthesis. I will take us into our next story. And this is one of those boring, but potentially important stories. And this comes from the nonprofit times and it, the title is taxpayer first act expands, mandatory. E-filing. Nine 90. I'm not an accountant, I'm on a tax expert. So please read this article yourself.

[00:18:45] But the general gist is that new legislation under new legislation and the IRS is now required to provide notice to any nonprofit that fails to file a form nine 90 return or postcard for two consecutive years. And similarly, there are now new requirements for the electronic submission of form nine nineties. Do your own research, do your own homework. Just know that these changes are upon us.

[00:19:11] Yeah, I'll just add from this article 4, 9, 9, the easy. Used by organizations that have gross receipts of under $200,000 in total assets of under 500,000 at the end of their tax year. So especially if you are a smaller organization, you know, send that around because, you know, potentially they're, they're looking at organizations that haven't potentially filed in two years, which could then begin to risk potentially because the IRS member tax classification and the 5 0 1 C3 might risk that.

[00:19:44] So yeah. That it's one of those fun, you know what, you know what I think of when I see articles like this is the same thing when I'm dealing with like a really tough, random administrative issue for, for even Holwell and it's that like, I, you know, I'm not an accountant, I don't know these things, but there are people running nonprofits that suddenly have to be like, okay, let's dig into what this actually means and figure that out.

[00:20:09] You know, it's the. The dirty truth of being, you know, the founder of a small nonprofit, or even have a company of certain sizes where you're just in charge of figuring out confusing things on a regular basis that you have no background in. But frankly, if you get wrong could mean could mean severe implications for the organization fund stuff.

[00:20:29] No pressure,

[00:20:30] No. Yeah, no pressure. I'm sure it's fine.

[00:20:32] no pressure. Oh man. How about I? How about we finished with a feel-good story, Jordan?

[00:20:38] Yes, please.

[00:20:39] All right. This comes from the good news network and it's about a nonprofit that's hit it's milestone for protecting more than 1 million acres of rainforest. So far this year, all with public donations in September. The Virginia based nonprofit made a $500 million commitment to preserving biodiversity. And six months later, the rainforest trust and its partners have already protected more than 1 million acres of habitat. So far in 2022. The rain forest trust organization has safeguarded over 38 million acres of habitat since its inception in 19. Eat, and we really liked their model. It seems like they work with indigenous communities and preexisting organizations which is really important protecting indigenous communities and the countries that we work in believes Ecuador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Myanmar. Cool stuff. We like protecting the rainforests ever increasingly more important. We spent a lot of time talking about global food security or insecurity that is you know, spread by things like drought, things that global warming and protecting our environment play a role in, so increasingly important, great stuff in this story. Love protecting the rainforests.

[00:21:58] Yeah. And the stat here from rainforest trust is that 99% of the forests protected by them remain standing today and a non-profit as well on its way to protecting 125 million more acres by 2025 that you did it in way. That made me feel good. That's a feel good story.

[00:22:16] I'm glad.

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