Emerging Technologies

Metaverse: How a cultural experience inspires preservation of the Amazon

The immersive cultural experience in the metaverse designed by Accenture, enables individuals from around the globe to virtually step into the Amazon.

The immersive cultural experience in the metaverse designed by Accenture, enables individuals from around the globe to virtually step into the Amazon. Image: GVC: World Economic Forum, Accenture and Microsoft.

Joseph Fowler
Head, Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum
Iris Jumbe
Lead, Marketing and Communications, Global Collaboration Village, World Economic Forum
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Emerging Technologies

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The Global Collaboration Village employs extended reality technologies to create immersive experiences in the Amazon, highlighting the significance of the region.
  • The project raises environmental awareness and amplifies Indigenous voices through immersion to drive advocacy.
  • Combining art and advocacy, the virtual Amazon journey inspires global action for its preservation.

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, the metaverse stands at the forefront of technological innovation. One of its most transformative applications is in the realm of arts and culture, particularly in how it can forge deep emotional connections with remote environments, communities and cultures.

The Global Collaboration Village, a World Economic Forum initiative in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, represents a pioneering endeavour in leveraging advanced innovations. It's dedicated to harnessing the power of next-generation technology to virtually transport individuals directly into the heart of an Amazon rainforest-inspired environment through an immersive cultural experience. This region, known for its unparalleled ecological and cultural significance, is brought to life through the innovative efforts of this collaborative project.

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The immersive cultural experience in the metaverse, which was designed by Accenture, transcends traditional boundaries. It enables individuals from around the globe to virtually step into the Amazon. The experience is not just a visual spectacle; it's a multi-sensory journey that combines the beauty of visual art by Refik Anadol, the rhythm of dance featuring world champion break-dancer Yaman Yamsonite Okur and Emilie Capel, the harmony of music with the song Nos Somos Amazonia by Muller & Makaroff featuring singer Flavia Coelho (part of the project ANTROPOCENO), and the power of spoken word featuring a speech by Samela Sateré-Mawé, the daughter of the leader Sonia da Silva Vilacio, of the Sateré-Mawé people, from the Andirá-Marau Indigenous Land, in the lower Amazon River. It’s an embodiment of the Amazon's spirit, capturing its vibrant essence and the rich cultural heritage of its Indigenous communities.

The urgency of environmental action

The Amazon rainforest, crucial to global climate balance, faces severe challenges from deforestation, impacting biodiversity and Indigenous communities. The Global Collaboration Village's immersive experience underscores these critical issues, vividly portraying the Amazon's beauty and the dire consequences of environmental threats. A key element of this experience is a song that resonates with the theme of climate change. Its lyrics and melody poignantly reflect the rising temperatures and their impact on the Amazon, creating a powerful auditory narrative that complements the visual storytelling of the rainforest's plight.

the Amazon in the Metaverse

Amplifying Indigenous voices of the Amazon

One of the most compelling aspects of this virtual journey is its ability to amplify the voices of the Amazon's Indigenous communities. In this immersive cultural experience we hear from Samela Sateré Mawé, a biology student, artisan, Indigenous communicator and activist on climate and Indigenous issues. Indigenous communities from the Amazon voice their own narratives, sharing their rich culture and unique perspectives. And effectively elevating their stories on a global stage.

Bridging the heartfelt narratives of the Amazon's Indigenous communities with the transformative potential of XR technology, a recent study underscores the power of virtual experiences to foster empathy and drive prosocial action. This research aligns with the Village's immersive experiences, suggesting that such virtual journeys can deepen users' understanding and advocacy for these communities, thus extending the reach and impact of their compelling stories.

Breaking barriers through extended reality

Virtual reality technology is a key enabler in this endeavour. It breaks down geographical barriers, allowing people from all corners of the world to access and understand the Amazon’s ecological and cultural significance. A Gartner report predicts that approximately 25% of people will spend at least an hour daily in the metaverse by 2026, indicating significant growth and accessibility trends in VR technology.

The transformative power of art in advocacy

The convergence of art and advocacy in this virtual environment is not just a novel concept but a powerful tool for change. Research from Morrison, Viller, and Mitchell on open-ended art environments demonstrates how art, by fostering interactive and playful engagement, can uniquely inspire participation and action in ways that differ from conventional advocacy approaches. This virtual journey through the Amazon is a testament to that, using the emotive power of art to inspire a collective response to environmental challenges.

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How is the World Economic Forum contributing to the metaverse?

Global collaboration for preservation

The Village goes beyond providing an immersive experience; it serves as a catalyst for global action. Participants in this virtual journey are not mere observers but become advocates for the Amazon's preservation. Research has shown that immersive virtual experiences (IVEs) can lead to tangible environmental actions. For example, participants who experienced cutting down a virtual tree in an IVE consumed 20% less paper than those who read about deforestation. Additionally, one week after the virtual experience, participants demonstrated greater internal environmental locus of control and reported increased environmental behaviours. This suggests that immersive experiences in the Village could significantly encourage participants to engage in real-world environmental initiatives and preservation efforts.

As we stand at a critical juncture for our planet, the union of technology, art, and advocacy in the metaverse offers a new pathway for environmental activism. The Global Collaboration Village’s immersive cultural experience is more than a virtual journey; it's a call to action, an invitation to be part of a global movement to protect one of the world's most vital ecosystems. By embracing this innovative approach, we can collectively work towards a more sustainable and equitable future for the Amazon and its inhabitants.

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