The Tuvalu archipelago duplicates its territory and culture in the metaverse

A symbol of global warming, Tuvalu, one of the smallest states on the planet, is trying to alert the world to its fate. On the occasion of COP 27, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu therefore announced the creation of a digital replica of his country, thus attempting a virtual post-engulfment survival. Located in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, this island state in Oceania is in danger of disappearing due to rising sea levels. Marie Sorbier went to see Géraldine Giraudeau to find out more.

Critical situation of the Polynesian archipelago

If some states of the planet have already disappeared, in particular for political reasons, no territory has really disappeared today. However, the Tuvalu archipelago will be swallowed up in a few years. Indeed, the Pacific Island States have been on the front lines of the effects of climate change and have been for many years. They are subject to various effects, including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, coral acidification, rising water levels and even soil salinization.

These effects already raise legal questions, in particular because they push back the baseline that allows for calculating or delimiting maritime boundaries and boundaries.Geraldine Giraudeau

This situation has already caused numerous displacements of people from different communities and their transfer within the Anatolian states, composed entirely of low-lying coral formations.

A foreseeable earthly disappearance

Whether it’s Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau – a special territory of New Zealand – or even Tuvalu, the possibility of this disappearance raises new legal questions.

In international law, a state is considered to consist of three elements: a people, a territory and a government.Geraldine Giraudeau

However, since in some islands these territories will become uninhabitable or even, for Tuvalu, completely swallowed up by the waters, this is tantamount to believing that one of the constituent elements of the state is disappearing. Hence the questioning of the survival of this state, in itself and within international organizations. There is also the question of the status of the citizens of this State who will have to be relocated, as well as that relating to state property rights in the maritime areas, whose areas are considerable.

These “land confetti” are in fact immense maritime nations, since in application of the law of the sea, they exercise powers over a territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone, which reaches up to 200,000 seafarers from the baselines.” Geraldine Giraudeau

A virtual state, pledge of a cultural sanctuary

All these questions are already on the agenda of various institutions that are starting to think about roads. Tuvalu could, for example, reinvent itself through the metaverse. In addition to the “announcement effect”, to alert the international community, this trail could have the merit of preserving support for the continuity of the state.

A deterritorialized state or a visual state would make it possible to give access to certain state services to citizens of Tuvalu who will have been relocated.Geraldine Giraudeau

Tuvalu’s project is to download the entirety of this state, both in its spatial aspect and in its cultural aspect. This would guarantee its inhabitants access to the cultural wealth of their island, as well as future generations who may never have access to the territory itself.

We imagine that these citizens and/or their descendants, wearing 3D glasses, can have access to what was Tuvalu. So it is the overturning in the virtual world of something that would no longer exist in the real world, which is what has a dramatic character, it must be recognized.” Geraldine Giraudeau

  • Have : “

    Nations of water“, documentary by Géraldine Giraudeau, freely visible on YouTube.

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