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Island nation Tuvalu recreates itself ... in the Metaverse

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

After two weeks of talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in, more commonly referred to as COP27, ended on Sunday. While leaders from nearly 200 nations failed to make progress on cuts to global carbon emissions, talks did wrap with agreement to set up a “loss and damage” fund that would help poorer nations deal with climate disasters which have been blamed on decades of uncontrolled carbon emissions from wealthier countries.

While this is seen as good news for some, it perhaps comes too late for the island nation of Tuvalu, which announced plans to recreate itself in the Metaverse in order to preserve its history and culture before it is submerged by climate change-induced sea level rises.

The 11,000 inhabitants of the south-western Pacific Ocean country are scattered over nine separate islands, six atolls, three reef islands, and over 500,000 square miles of ocean between Hawaii and Australia. First settled around the 14th century by settlers from Samoa, Tuvalu’s unique history and heritage includes Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian influences as well as that of British Imperialism.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister, Simon Kofe, revealed the nation’s plans to build a digital replica of the country in the Metaverse at this year’s climate conference, saying “As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation”, adding “Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets of our people – and to keep them safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we’ll move them to the cloud.” Tuvalu’s leaders are hoping their plan to recreate their home int e Metaverse will allow Tuvalu to “fully function as a sovereign state”, even if its people are forced to live elsewhere in the physical world.

This isn’t the first time we’ve looked at the Metaverse as a possible way to preserve our physical world. Back in June of this year, we considered the role of the Metaverse in protecting and preserving wildlife, and promoting biodiversity through educational, learning, sponsorship and fundraising experiences in virtual environments.

While the “loss and damage” fund may come too late for Tuvalu, the country is a good illustration of how countries are being impacted by global temperature rises, despite their own environmental impact being minimal. Every year, Tuvalu suffers from severe flooding caused by higher tides, and scientists are predicting that the island nation will become uninhabitable within the next century. In his speech to delegates, Kofe added that: “The tragedy of this outcome cannot be overstated. Tuvalu could be the first country in the world to exist solely in cyber space, but if global warming continues unchecked it won’t be the last.”

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Aboodi Vesakaran/Unsplash

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