After telling COP27 that it was time to consider other options for his country’s survival, Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, announced on Tuesday that his country is becoming the first digitised nation in the metaverse (an online domain that uses augmented and virtual reality to connect users).
“Islands like this one won’t survive rapid temperature increases, rising sea levels, and droughts. So we’ll recreate them virtually,” said Kofe.
Tuvalu, located between Australia and Hawaii, has long been affected by climate change, with rising sea levels threatening to flood the small Pacific island nation and its 12,000 citizens.
At high tide, up to 40% of the capital district is submerged; by the end of the century, the entire nation is expected to be completely submerged.
“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 will move them to the cloud,” Kofe said in his COP27 video address from a virtual recreation of an islet endangered by increasing sea levels.
"Islands like this one won’t survive rapid temperature increases, rising sea levels…so we’ll recreate them virtually. Piece by piece, we’ll preserve our country…"- @Simon_Kofe
How you can help? Visit – https://t.co/HqnliGGbLn pic.twitter.com/kw7mCBNSq9
— Tuvalu Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@Tuvalu_MJCFA) November 16, 2022
Kofe captured worldwide attention at last year’s COP26 when he addressed the conference while standing knee-deep in the water to demonstrate Tuvalu’s vulnerability to climate change.
Images of Simon Kofe standing in a suit and tie at a lectern set up in the sea, with his trouser legs rolled up draw attention to Tuvalu's struggle against rising sea levels 2/5 pic.twitter.com/0GXU3CT5PE
— Reuters Science News (@ReutersScience) November 9, 2021
“Since COP26, the world has not acted and so we in the Pacific have had to act. We’ve had to take our own precautionary steps with a Future Now project. As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation,” Tuvalu’s diplomacy chief told COP27.
As their territories disappear, Kofe foresees that more nations would be forced to merge into the metaverse.
“We must start doing so [taking action] today. Otherwise, within a lifetime, Tuvalu will only exist here,” he added.
Although the island nation of Barbados and the city of Seoul both announced last year that they will enter the metaverse to offer administrative and consular services, Tuvalu will be the first country to replicate itself in the metaverse.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: One of the islands of Tuvalu. Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.