The South Pacific island of Tuvalu is building a version of itself in the metaverse as rising sea levels threaten its existence on Earth. Olivia Palamountain reports
This is not the first time that politicians from Tuvalu have used shock tactics as a desperate plea to highlight the effects of climate change on their homeland – at last year’s summit, Kofe delivered a speech criticising the international response to climate change while standing knee-deep in the ocean.
Replicating Tuvalu in the metaverse would make it the world’s first digital nation – but breaking new ground poses some taxing questions regarding international law and citizenship.
Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s finance minister spoke about the legal issues this month. “There is no international agreement that we can rely on that can recognize Tuvalu’s proposed new status,” he said. “That is a challenge before us and we are now raising awareness and advocacy.”
What more do we know about Tuvalu? The fourth smallest nation in the world, Tuvalu sits in Polynesian Oceania, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The archipelago consists of three reef islands and six atolls, and is home to just 11,000 people – most of whom live on the largest island, Fongfale.
According to The Guardian, two of Tuvalu’s nine islands are on the verge of going under, swallowed by sea-rise and coastal erosion. Most of the islands sit barely three metres above sea level, and at its narrowest point, Fongafale stretches just 20 metres across.
At high tide, up to 40 per cent of the capital district in the city of Funafuti is underwater, says Reuters, with rising waters also threaten the country’s access to sustenance.