Tuvalu: Soon engulfed, this small country duplicates itself in the metaverse

While the Tuvalu archipelago is threatened with submersion by 2100, this small Pacific country wants to keep track of its existence in the future by splitting into the metaverse. Eselealofa Apinelu, originally from Tuvalu and currently High Commissioner to Fiji, believes that “people should always be able to remember Tuvalu as it was, before it disappeared”.

Tuvalu, this small Pacific country destined to disappear

Tuvalu is a Polynesian archipelago, made up of 9 islands. This country is located in the Pacific Ocean, 45 meters above sea level and 850 km from the Fiji Islands. It is unfortunately threatened with submersion by 2100 due to global warming. By the way, you may have seen a video of Tuvalu that made the rounds on social networks. On the occasion of COP26, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu made the buzz. In a suit and tie, with water up to his knees, facing a desk set up in the ocean, Simon Kofe gives a strong symbolic speech aimed at alerting to the climate emergency. “In Tuvalu we are living the reality of climate change, sea levels are rising, as you look at me today at COP 26. We cannot just talk as the sea is constantly rising around us . Climate mobility must come to the fore. We must take bold alternative steps today to secure our future.”

Landmark speech by Simon Kofe in November 2021. Source: Le Parisien.

To create a “digital twin” to never forget Tuvalu

By creating its virtual version in the metaverse, the culture and values ​​of Tuvalu could endure. “The idea is to keep it in such a state that generations of Tuvaluans can look at it… That’s the idea of ​​digitization”, after Eselealofa Apinelu. Thus, the objective is that the next generations “know that somewhere there was a country called Tuvalu”.

Tweet from Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuvalu’s Future Now Project

A hidden political objective: the preservation of statehood even if the territory disappears

This is a very singular legal problem! What will happen when the archipelago is submerged? Will Tuvalu still be a country? Indeed, if the archipelago were to be submerged, the sovereignty of the country and its rights over its maritime zones could disappear. By preserving itself digitally, the archipelago wants to try to maintain its status as a state in the eyes of the whole world.

The digital twinning of territories: a popular trend

Several digital territorial twinning initiatives have emerged around the world.

  • For example, in 2021, the mayor of the South Korean capital announced the launch of Metaverse Seoul. Within this virtual world, citizens could, for example, obtain tax advice or operating permits by meeting virtually with dematerialized officials.
  • Similarly, with $1.5 billion allocated to its metaverse development fund, the city of Shanghai aspires to “encourage” the use of the metaverse for public services, business offices, social entertainment, industrial manufacturing, production safety and electronic games.
  • In May 2022, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) of Dubai set up its headquarters within the metaverse “The Sandbox”. It then became the first government agency to enter the metaverse.
  • In France, in April 2022, Cannes had “tokenized” ten emblematic monuments of the city to promote its local heritage.

Thus, a territory, a state or a public body can choose to duplicate itself in the metaverse. Such a pairing makes it possible to simplify public services at the dawn of Web3 or to promote the heritage and history of such a space beyond its borders and its era. Indeed, the metaverse is also a source of opportunities for the public sector!

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