SDG ‘wish tree’ added to Metaverse in bid to raise awareness
Users of the Metaverse this week will notice a new addition – a virtual ‘tree’ where they can add messages of hope and peace, plus pledges to take action, relating to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The virtual ‘wish tree’ has been launched to coincide with the 77th General Assembly for the UN, taking place in New York, and with the international ‘Global Goals Week’ campaign.
Software firm Digital Village has worked with the UN Development Programme’s SDG Action Campaign to develop and launch the ‘wish tree’. Metaverse users will be able to virtually congregate around the tree and approach it to leave messages. They will be encouraged to make commitments to drive progress towards one or more of the SDGs, or to leave messages of hope, kindness and solidarity for other users.
The theme for this year’s Global Coals week is notably #FlipTheScript. Participants are being encouraged to showcase positive case studies and take action, and to challenge existing narratives and systems which have hampered sustainable development in the past. It is hoped that the ‘wish tree’ will feed into this work.
Last year, 100 million messages and commitments were made using the Global Goals week theme hashtag, #Act4SDGs.
Some 60,000 people have used the Metaverse to date and interest is believed to be greatest among young people. With augmented reality and virtual reality technologies growing rapidly in popularity – again, mainly led by youth – use is expected to expand significantly in the coming years. The SDG Action Campaign has stated an intention to spread its message to a broader audience, with social media users and gamers being two large communities that can be reached using emerging digital platforms.
Digital Village’s chief executive Evelyn Mora summarised: “To #FlipTheScript means we must rewrite and re-examine the world around us. At Digital Village, we are in the business of creating and curating new worlds and are empowered to work with partners and changemakers, such as the UN SDG Action Campaign team, to shape a new reality and future that works for everyone. The message of our wish tree is to highlight how the power is in our hands to lead the change we all want to see.”
According to the OECD, at least 28% of people in each participating nation are aware of the SDGs. Awareness has not surpassed 45% of the population in any of its geographies, however.
This is not the first time that emerging digital technologies have been used to promote the SDGs to young audiences in particular. Back in 2017, game developer Niantic launched an SDG-focused campaign with the World Economic Forum via its Pokemon Go mobile game. The campaign saw game locations dedicated to each of the 17 Global Goals and players able to add SDG-themed gear to their avatars.
In related news, the UN is holding a new ‘Global We’ public engagement programme this week.
The programme includes ‘conversation portals’ – portable studios with digital connectivity and audio-visual equipment. Climate leaders and activists will be using the portals to host conversations and events this week, between New York, Mexico City and Kigali.
Before COP27 begins in Egypt in November, a further 25 conversation portals will be installed in urban locations across the world. The aim is to enable as many conversations as possible and, crucially, to amplify the voices of those rarely engaged, including the most affected communities.
The Ikea Foundation, the retailer’s charitable arm, is supporting the initiative.
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