The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is turning to the metaverse to preserve its culture

Its very existence is threatened by climate change.


With global temperatures expected to rise as much as 2.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the island nation of Tuvalu says it has no choice but to build a digital version of itself. On Tuesday, Simon Kofe, the country’s foreign minister, told the COP27 climate summit Tuvalu would look to the metaverse to preserve its culture and history amid rising sea levels (via Reuters).

“As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation. 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,” Kofe said in a video that sees the camera slowly zooming out to reveal that he’s in front of a greenscreen recreation of his home.

At last year’s COP26 summit, Kofe famously addressed the conference standing knee-deep in seawater to highlight the existential threat climate change poses to island nations like Tuvalu. In his latest address, the metaverse is framed as a potential home for all countries if there's not a global effort to address the problem.

“Only concerted global effort can ensure that Tuvalu does not move permanently online and disappear forever from the physical plane,” he said. “Without a global conscience and a global commitment to our shared well-being, we may soon find the rest of the world joining us online as their lands disappear.

Tuvalu is an archipelago consisting of nine islands located between Australia and Hawaii. It’s home to approximately 12,000 people. Climate scientists anticipate the entire country will be underwater by the end of the 21st century.

To achieve the 1.5C target put forward by the Paris Agreement and avoid significantly worse climate outcomes, the world has eight years to reduce annual global emissions by a further 45 percent, compared with projections based on current policies. To limit the rise in temperatures to under 2C, an extra 30 percent reduction in emissions is needed.