Tuvalu looks to the metaverse as rising seas threaten existence

Tuvalu looks to the metaverse as rising seas threaten existence

Nov 15 (Reuters) – Tuvalu said on Tuesday it planned to build a digital version of itself, replicating islands and landmarks and preserving its history and culture as rising sea levels threaten to overwhelm the tiny Pacific island nation.

Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe told the COP27 climate summit it was time to look at alternative solutions for his country’s survival, which included Tuvalu becoming the first digitized nation in the metaverse. – an online domain that uses augmented and virtual reality (VR) to help users interact.

“Our land, our ocean, our culture are our people’s most precious assets and to protect them from harm no matter what happens in the physical world, we will move them to the cloud,” he said. in the video which sees him standing on a digital replica of an islet threatened by rising sea levels.

Kofe caught global attention at last year’s COP26 when he addressed the conference standing knee-deep in the sea to illustrate how Tuvalu is on the front lines of climate change.

Tuvalu needed to act because countries around the world were not doing enough to prevent climate change, he said.

Tuvalu will be the first country to replicate in the metaverse, but follows both the city of Seoul and the island nation of Barbados which announced last year that they would enter the metaverse to provide administrative and consular services respectively. .

“The idea is to continue to function as a state and beyond that to preserve our culture, our knowledge, our history in a digital space,” Kofe told Reuters ahead of the announcement.

Tuvalu, a group of nine islands and 12,000 people halfway between Australia and Hawaii, has long been a cause celeb for the risks of climate change and rising sea levels.

Up to 40% of the Capital District is under water at high tide, and the whole country is expected to be under water by the end of the century.

Kofe said he hoped the creation of a digital nation would allow Tuvalu to continue functioning as a state even if it became completely overwhelmed.

This is important as the government begins efforts to ensure that Tuvalu continues to be internationally recognized as a state and that its maritime boundaries – and the resources in those waters – are maintained even if the islands are submerged.

Kofe said seven governments have agreed to continued recognition, but there would be challenges if Tuvalu goes bankrupt as this is a new area of ​​international law.

Reporting by Lucy Craymer in Wellington; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

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