As sea levels rise due to climate change and threaten to erase Pacific SIDS from the map, leaders are grappling with existential questions such as legal rights to their sovereign territory and exclusive economic zone, citizenship, loss of heritage and more. As outlined in our last bulletin, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati called upon world leaders at the UN General Assembly to tackle these questions and they are turning to technology to offer potential solutions.
With respect to the questions of continuity of government services, Pacific SIDS are taking steps to prepare their future by digitizing government services and public administration. These nations are seeking digital solutions to preserve the national heritage and culture of the country, to create a ‘digital twin’ in the metaverse, to forever protect and remember the island nation as its people relocate and integrate into secondary cultures. The initiative calls for preservation of culture as UNESCO-protected heritage in a digital repository. Encouraging national efforts and legal protections to preserve and digitize historical documents; records of cultural practices; and other important texts, images, or multimedia that should be protected in the face of climate-induced disasters.
The concept of creating a new digital state has been explored for related applications, such as sea steading or space colonization Digital technologies, such as online government and financial services, VR replicas of communities and spaces, bitcoin embassies, digital cultural events, etc. can be combined to create a cloud-based digital nation state. While the technologies exist and can feasibly be brought together in a coherent ‘country’, the international legal recognition for a remotely operating, landless nation state, will likely be the more challenging barrier, given the potential precedent this could set for other landless groups, which are internationally recognized nations of peoples.
Image: Bitcoin Association
Read the rest of SIDS Bulletin issue 65 here.