Tuvalu turns to the metaverse as rising seas threaten existence

Nov 15 (Reuters) – Tuvalu said on Tuesday it plans to create a digital version of itself, restoring islands and landmarks and preserving its history and culture. meaning rising sea levels threaten to submerge the small Pacific island.

The Minister of Cities of Tuvalu Simon Kofe said at the COP27 climate conference that it is time to look at other solutions for the life of his country and that Tuvalu is the first country to be digitized in in the metaverse – an online world that uses augmented and virtual reality (VR) to help users. interaction.

“Our land, our sea, our culture are the most important assets of our people, to be safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we move it to the cloud, ” he said in the video that he sees. he stands on a digital model of an island threatened by rising seas.

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Kofe grabbed the world’s attention at last year’s COP26 when he addressed the conference knee-deep in the ocean to show how Tuvalu is on the front line of climate change .

Tuvalu must act because the countries of the world are not able to prevent climate change, he said.

Tuvalu is the first country to turn itself into the metaverse but follows the city of Seoul and the island nation of Barbados who announced last year that they would join the metaverse to provide administrative and diplomatic services. .

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“The idea is to continue working as a government and beyond that to preserve our culture, our knowledge, our history in the digital space,” Kofe told Reuters before the read.

Tuvalu, a group of nine islands with 12,000 people between Australia and Hawaii, has long highlighted the risks of climate change and sea level rise.

Up to 40% of the city is under water at high tide, and it is predicted that the entire country will be under water by the end of the century.

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Kofe said he hopes the creation of a digital state will allow Tuvalu to continue to function as a government even if it is completely submerged.

This is important as the government begins to ensure that Tuvalu continues to be recognized internationally as a country and that its maritime borders – and the resources within those waters – will remain intact even if the islands are submerged.

Kofe said seven governments have agreed to continue to honor it but it will be a challenge if Tuvalu withdraws as this is a new area of ​​international law.

Lucy Craymer talks in Wellington; Edited by Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters’ Guardian Principles.

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