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The metaverse is no longer a buzzword as more brands and individuals harness the potential of blockchain technology to create new services and reach new audiences.

How can individuals and organizations use these new virtual worlds to tackle challenges in our physical world? This is a key question that will determine how relevant the metaverse will be for humanity in the future.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that the world is faced with today. As more countries suffer from the negative effects of the climate crisis, it is now urgent that global bodies come together to address the future needs of populations that are suffering the most.

Creating virtual testbeds for climate solutions

Although many people are concerned by the ongoing threat of climate change and the negative effects it is having on our natural environments, there is not enough study of the extreme consequences climate change could have on the world around us. In a recent paper by experts from Cambridge University, they note that researching the extreme risks of climate change could "galvanize action, improve resilience and inform policy".

Here are just a few ways that the metaverse could become a testbed for climate solutions; designing new agricultural practices, creating architectural plans for green cities, conducting market research on new working conditions, demonstrating the benefits of reusing and recycling materials, educating the public about access to local produce.

Cutting down on our over-reliance on physical spaces

Our environmental footprint has caused havoc on the natural ecosystems around us. Globalization has allowed us to explore every corner of the earth, leaving very little untouched. Is it time to give the exhausted landscapes some breathing room?

Transferring some of our tourist tendencies to the metaverse may provide some much-needed reprieve for the cities and landscapes around us. Feasibility studies for tourist attractions in virtual worlds may prove to be valuable alternatives that use less natural resources that are already threatened by usage.

Driving Awareness

Information distribution is one of the most powerful tools that can be used today to raise awareness of the climate issues the public is faced with. The Metaverse and NFTs are powerful marketing tools that are now being used by global brands to engage with new audiences and interact with their existing communities.

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The UN DigitalArt4ClimateChange initiative is a superb example of how the metaverse and NFTs can be harnessed to educate the public about some of the most pressing climate issues. For this initiative, the UN-Habitat group partnered with Unique Network and Exquisite Workers. It empowered digital artists to inspire people to take action when it comes to the climate crisis. Artwork from the winning artist, Bricx Martillo Dumas, depicts our broken relationship with materials and the danger of plastic.

Accurately tracking green policies

Greenwashing is a term that is all too familiar to climate activists who analyze the ‘green’ activities of companies who want to demonstrate their care for the environment. Often organizations that set out with good intentions fall short when it comes to the implementation of green initiatives.

Broad statements and big ambitions with little substance are two ways companies have engaged in greenwashing. Examples include big brands like Nestles ambitious targets to make its packaging 100% recyclable by 2025 was criticized by Greenpeace as greenwashing. Also, financial institutions making sweeping statements on the importance of green investment strategies but at the same time continuing to lend money to fossil fuel companies.

Playing both sides of the fence is no longer an option as the tipping point for climate action and the reversal of damage is reached. Companies like dClimate, ReFiDao, and Regen Network are already using data as a powerful tool to showcase greener alternatives. As the metaverse is developed with blockchain technology, the benefits of this transparent technology can be harnessed to force companies to accurately track, report and manage their green policies.

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Bringing your wardrobe into the Metaverse

Many clothing brands today have an ‘eco-friendly’ line or plan to use environmentally friendly products in their materials for the future. However, any use of natural textiles to create clothing will inevitably have some effect on the natural environment. The sheer amount of waste created by unwanted clothes each year tells us that fast fashion has become a massive issue.

As our consumer habits continue to expand the Metaverse provides a way to fulfill these needs to add to our wardrobes without purchasing the physical item every time. Brands like Gucci have begun experimenting with the metaverse, using it as a playground for wearables and creative fashion. From buying wearables to augmented experiences, fashion brands can offer unique, immersive environments to engage with consumers in the metaverse. Perhaps in the future, the virtual item will be more valuable than the physical piece of clothing and shopping for your avatar will be better for the environment.

As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change, the Metaverse offers new opportunities to test solutions, enhance awareness of climate-focused initiatives and importantly, provide the public with a pathway towards changing our behaviors when it comes to being greener in the future.