Yesterday, during the Informal Consultation on the Nairobi work programme (NWP) the Secretariat provided an update of progress made since SBSTA 44 back in May. In the report, the Secretariat highlighted the success of social media efforts to-date, which included a video interview series designed to raise awareness on the importance of working with vulnerable communities. What if instead of viewing the interviews on Youtube viewers could virtually experience the experts as if they were in the same room? Or better yet, what if the interviews took the viewer to communities most affected by climate change?
The idea is not that far away. As technology continues to advance, so do our platforms for information sharing. It is likely that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will soon become as commonplace as Facebook and Twitter. Who hasn’t heard of Pokemon Go? Virtual reality provides people the opportunity to experience the first-hand effects of climate change. For instance, Party delegates from Canada could experience the aftermath of a typhoon in the Philippines or drought in Sri Lanka. The tool could be an incredibly effective way to both humanize climate experiences and expose people to on-the-ground implementation of new adaptation actions.
Developers are already creating these experiences. Researchers at Stanford recently created a virtual ocean acidification experience. Likewise, David Attenborough has a coral reef VR experience. Not to mention, there are a number of COP 22 exhibits promoting VR technology as a tool for climate change. In an effort to increase awareness and share knowledge, it is not unreasonable to imagine the NWP adding VR and AR to its modalities of communication. Perhaps allowing people step into someone’s world can provide just enough empathy and awareness to generate more effective adaptation actions.