The Government of Tuvalu
Client: The Government of Tuvalu
Product: The Government of Tuvalu
Title: The First Digital Nation
Media: Film & Website
Date Of Campaign: 15th November 2022
Background: Despite the excitement surrounding the metaverse in recent years, Tuvalu recognises that the realization of a fully interconnected metaverse will require significant progress in hardware, software, and networking infrastructure. Put simply, the promise of a true metaverse is years away. That’s not something that’s deterred Tuvalu. Pacific cultures have always taken a multi-decade approach to planning. Tuvalu’s forward-thinking strategy towards long-term solutions are a key strength of its people. The First Digital Nation explores how new technologies like blockchain, VR and the internet of things, might converge in the future to help Tuvalu survive. The initiative was launched at COP27, with a recorded address from Tuvaluan Minister Simon Kofe to world leaders. On screen, Minister Kofe appeared to address the delegates from Te Afualiku Islet, the first island that will be submerged. As the speech continued, it was revealed he was speaking from a digital recreation of the islet.
Idea: Tuvalu is facing an impossible challenge. At the current rate of global sea level rise, the entire country will be submerged by 2050. To ensuring its sovereignty and ability to govern in the face of a worst-case scenario, Tuvalu will become the First Digital Nation. During his address at COP27, Minister Kofe outlined the multi-phase plan, which involves gradually migrating Tuvalu's government services, culture, and history to the cloud. This digital transformation will allow Tuvalu to retain its identity and continue to function, even after its physical land is gone. The first step in this process, is the digitization and recording of Tuvalu's land mass, which will serve as a crucial component in its legal fight for territorial sovereignty under international law. By harnessing the potential of the metaverse, this innovation represents a unique approach to achieving ongoing statehood, while serving as a powerful catalyst for climate mitigation efforts. Innovation: The digital migration of an entire country is a ground-breaking step, unlike anything the world has ever seen. Tuvalu is the first country to face the existential threat of climate change, so it’s the first to search for solutions.?Becoming the world’s First Digital Nation is Tuvalu’s last chance to preserve its culture and protect its sovereignty. This move will allow Tuvalu to: Fight for continued sovereignty by arguing in international court that a permanent digital replica of Tuvalu should be considered ‘a defined territory’. Preserve history, culture, and records of native species. Ensure ongoing protection of Tuvalu’s underwater ecological sites, and precious reef systems important in regulating the Earth’s climate. Facilitate the governance of a Tuvaluan diaspora by creating a virtual space where Tuvaluans can connect with each other, explore ancestry and culture, while providing new opportunities for business and commerce in various industries. Warn the world of what’s to come without meaningful climate action. As Minister Kofe himself says: “We live with the realities of climate change and have a responsibility to forewarn the world as to what is coming ahead.”
Results: With a $0 media budget, the project’s launch reached 2.1 billion people. It was covered by 173 major global publications, including The New York Times and The Guardian, and the news trended on Tiktok and Twitter. The campaign website received global traffic from 160 countries – 118 in less than 48 hours. All this reach turned to action when, days after the announcement, a historic loss and damage fund for nations like Tuvalu was established at COP27. Most importantly, nine different nations have already agreed to officially recognise Tuvalu’s digital statehood. The project was not just a powerful provocation for global action, but the start of an ongoing climate adaptation strategy. Building the first digital nation – both an archive and a functional state – is a process that will continue for years to come. As long as sea levels continue rising, Tuvalu will continue its digital migration.