Published 2 months ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Part of the Global Collaboration Village, leaders can now come together in the metaverse to experience and solve the deepening effects of the climate crisis.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched an immersive Polar Tipping
— an immersive, virtual-reality space in which global leaders can gather to
craft solutions to address the pressing issue of climate tipping points. The
purpose-driven platform — part of WEF’s virtual Global Collaboration
Village — will provide a forum
for innovators and decision-makers to solve the deepening effects of the climate
and nature crises, particularly those located in the polar regions.
The launch of the hub coincides with the annual summer sea ice extent
minimum in the Arctic, which adds a
timely emphasis on the pressing need to address polar warming and climate
The ability to simulate the tipping points at different temperatures in real
time could help drive faster decision-making.
"Breaching the planetary tipping points will bring dire consequences for the
interconnected ecosystems that support life on our planet,” said Gim Huay
Neo, Managing Director and Head of
the Centre for Nature and Climate at the World Economic Forum. “By understanding
the drivers and impacts, the global community can respond more effectively to
the climate and nature crises. Through collective action, business and
government can innovate, mitigate and adapt to the risks associated with global
temperature rise and the resulting tipping points in the polar regions, and
Image credit: Accenture
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Human-induced warming, as the world approaches and surpasses a 1.5°C increase,
is edging dangerously close to triggering several critical polar tipping points.
Among the 16 climate tipping
identified by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
six are in particularly precarious states — even with temperature rises below
2°C. Five of these tipping points are located in the polar regions, encompassing
both the Arctic and Antarctic. The interconnectivity, or
between regions means many seemingly disparate tipping points are bonded —
so, this situation has global implications.
The nexus of polar tipping points, with the potential to disrupt interconnected
Earth systems, can lead to stability challenges across geographies. This
includes the albedo effect, which
relates to the reflectivity of surfaces. High albedo reflects more sunlight,
while low albedo absorbs — which impacts both climate and temperature. The
whiteness of the snow and ice layer reflects heat away from the Earth and
prevents it from warming the oceans and land (including permafrost) even more;
but this albedo effect is declining due to polar ice and snow loss.
There is also a long-term, linear relationship between carbon dioxide emissions
caused by human activity and Arctic sea ice
— which means that, as emissions increase, sea ice will continue to decline. The
decline is already accelerating global vulnerabilities such as extreme weather,
heat stress, compromised food and water security, climate migration and
disruptions in supply chains.
The Global Collaboration Village — a WEF metaverse where organizations can
convene to learn about, create solutions for, and take action on the world’s
most pressing challenges —
in 2022 in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft. Within it, the
Polar Tipping Points Hub offers an immersive experience that allows
collaborators to visualize the ramifications of polar warming on Earth's
intricate systems. Through a monitoring station, visitors gain a deeper insight
into three of the five pivotal polar tipping points that become precarious if
temperatures rise by 1.5°C or beyond.
The Hub will serve the dual purpose of enhancing awareness and facilitating
cross-sectoral collaboration among Village partners and existing Forum
communities. The hub is a work in progress, continually incorporating new data
to ensure it remains at the forefront of polar and climate research;
collaboration on new and combined data sets from Arctic Basecamp, NASA,
the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and other institutions has been
instrumental to the development of the hub.
Partnering for a resilient future
The Polar Tipping Points Hub launch aligns closely with the WEF's commitment to
addressing global challenges through concerted initiatives. Enabling virtual
immersion into the polar regions will illustrate current warming trends and the
consequent cascade of risks, offering a vital tool for comprehending the urgency
of unified action.
"The ability to connect and collaborate in shared immersive spaces, spanning
distances and devices, can inspire team creativity and outcomes that may
otherwise not have been possible," said Navjot
Virk, VP of Microsoft
Mesh. "The Global Collaboration Village's
Polar Tipping Points Hub demonstrates how people can leverage immersive
experiences built on Microsoft Mesh technology to see and better understand the
complex and interconnected challenges of global issues, like climate change."
As of now, the Global Collaboration Village is comprised of three main areas:
A town hall: The WEF’s “Virtual Congress Center” for future sessions or
meetings such as plenaries, workshops and bilaterals.
Collaborative centers: Virtual collaboration spaces for immersive
storytelling intended to inspire collaboration, experiential learning and
real-world impact on global issues. For example, in addition to the Polar
Tipping Points Hub, there’s an Ocean
Hub in which
participants can dive into the ocean’s depths and explore why and how marine
ecosystems must be protected to preserve both life on land and in water.
Stakeholder campuses: Forum Partners can shape their presence, convene
their stakeholders, and partner with others to innovate and find solutions
to global challenges.
WEF says it will continue to invite organizations to build in these immersive
spaces to further bolster learning, collaboration and partnership. The
initiative’s aim to strengthen and re-energize international cooperation is
guided by four principles:
global cooperation toward shared solutions;
interactive immersion to foster better understanding;
broad participation enabled by inclusive discussions; and
individual and collective action as a catalyst for maximum impact.
"At the World Economic Forum, our central mission is to convene stakeholders for
collaborative problem-solving, to improve the state of the world,” said Rebecca
Ivey, Head of the Global Collaboration
Village. “The Village democratizes this process by using immersive technologies
that enable us to achieve more together, even across distances. Our aim is to
make these tools accessible to diverse audiences, amplifying their potential to
contribute to the betterment of the world. "
Published Sep 19, 2023 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST