How Fiji Does Climate Adaptation: Actions Speak Louder In Virtual Reality

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Over here in the US, much of the climate adaptation talk has to do with the familiar topic of infrastructure. Massive structures of concrete and steel are only part of the solution, though. CleanTechnica caught wind of a United Nations project that leverages virtual reality to communicate the nuances of climate adaptation, and they have chosen an interesting location to explore: the islands of Veidrala, Narikoso, and Lekanai in Fiji.

Peace & Climate

The connection between conflict prevention, climate change, and climate adaptation has become all the more fraught with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia earlier this year, but the US Navy (among others) began raising the national security alarm on climate change at least 10 years ago, both on account of increased global conflict and on account of increased demands for its humanitarian and rescue missions, in addition to impacts on its shoreline facilities.

Broadly speaking, the conflict-climate connection explains why the UN is deploying its United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs to communicate on climate adaptation.

The new virtual reality project on Fiji, called Sea of Islands, is part of the new “United Nations: Futuring Peace” series under the umbrella of the UN DPPA, from the virtual reality social impact platform ecosphere, a project of the immersive tech firm PHORIA.

Check out the trailer on Vimeo for a teaser.

If ecosphere rings a bell, its inaugural season in 2020 came out with a focus on wildlife exploration. The new series pairs ecosphere and PHORIA with UN DPPA, Media Farm Studios, and Meta Quest, which comes under the Reality Labs umbrella.

Other locations for the Futuring Peace series are Pathways Colombia in Columbia, and the forthcoming Musalem in Yemen.

Climate Adaptation & Fiji

From a climate adaptation — and climate action — perspective, the island nation of Fiji is of particular interest because it is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and other climate impacts. Fiji was the first nation to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement agreement on climate change. Its government has been front and center on government-based climate initiatives in the years since then, so it’s no surprise to find Fiji hosted COP23 in 2017.

“This November, the world’s gaze will fall on Fiji to move the global agenda forward on reducing carbon emissions. As president for the 23rd Climate Change Conference (COP23), the Fijian Government will continue its unwavering battle to address one of the greatest challenges threatening the nation, the region and the planet, at large,” explains the UN’s COP23 website.

Fiji is one of the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world, and it is also among the least contributors to global warming emissions. In that regard, it has become something of a test case for the willingness of the international community — and in particular, industrial economies — to contribute to adaptive measures in vulnerable nations even as they pump more dollars into their own infrastructure and other climate adaptation programs.

That is part of the reason why, among other firsts, in 2018 Fiji also became the first nation to develop a comprehensive, five-year climate action plan developed through the United States In-Country National Adaptation Plan Support Program. The Fiji NAP was set in motion by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, which is the host organization for the NAP Global Network Secretariat.

Also of interest is the growing voice of indigenous people in developing climate adaptation and resilience strategies, a feature that PHORIA co-founder Joseph Purdam has highlighted.

“These stories, of Veidrala, Narikoso, Lekanai are inspiring case studies that we have the honor of witnessing and sharing. They demonstrate the power of indigenous knowledge to adapt to the challenges of a changing climate and their wisdom deserves to be recognized on a global stage,” he said.

“Climate security is really at the heart of this content,” adds Gabrielle Allen, CEO of Media Farm Studios and Executive Producer for Sea of Islands. “I believe audiences will come to appreciate just how vulnerable these communities really are, and how much work is being done with the United Nations to forge a more secure future for the Pacific Islands.”

Climate Adaptation & World Peace

As for the ripple effect of new and existing global conflicts, the government of Fiji is working diligently to maintain the focus on climate action and adaptation. CNN and other media have reported that the leading defense summit of Asia, the Shangri-La Dialogue, was dominated by conflict disputes, while the Fiji Minister of Defense, Inia Seruiratu, stated that “in our blue Pacific continent, machine guns, fighter jets, gray ships and green battalions are not our primary security concern.”

“The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change. It threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity,” Seruiratu added.

Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo: courtesy of ecosphere.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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