As its land disappears from rising sea levels, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has announced that it will recreate itself in the metaverse in order to preserve its land, history and culture.
Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe announced the project in a video aired at the UN’s climate conference COP27, where a year earlier, he gave a powerful speech calling for urgent climate action while standing knee deep in the ocean.
“Since COP26, the world has not acted,” Kofe said from a small islet that was likely to be the first to be submerged from rising sea levels as a result of global warming. “And so, we in the Pacific have had to act.”
Kofe said that as Tuvalu’s land disappears, it has had no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation
“Our land, our culture, our ocean are the most precious assets of our people. And to keep them safe from harm, no matters what happens in the physical world, we’ll move them to the cloud,” he said.
“Islands like this one won’t survive rapid temperature increases, rising sea levels and droughts, so we’ll recreate them virtually. Piece by piece, we’ll preserve our country, provide solace for our people and remind our children and grandchildren what our home once was,” he said.
He added that it was also a matter of sovereignty to to ensure the country’s statehood and maritime boundaries are permanently maintained despite extreme land loss due to climate change.
“The world’s inaction has led our Pacific region to take greater action and forge our own path as leaders on the national stage,” he said, as the landscape gradually turned more and more digital. “But our action alone cannot stop the current trajectory of climate change.”
He said only a global effort could ensure that Tuvalu does not disappear forever and move permanently online.
He concluded the speech calling for an end to fossil fuels emissions and production and boosting financing for loss and damage and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“Without a global conscience and a global commitment to our shared wellbeing, we may soon find the rest of the world joining us online as their lands disappear,” he added.
The video then fades to black with the words saying “Save the real Tuvalu.”