Accenture had already worked with several Pacific islands, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) on a recent conservation and climate change project. Inspired by that project’s success, Accenture set out to help Tuvalu tell a compelling story at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), with an aim to drive global climate action and avoid the nation’s worst-case scenario.
Accenture’s Sustainability Studio and Accenture Song developed a concept for Kofe to deliver his COP27 speech from a digital version of Tuvalu. The speech would highlight the country’s plight and its innovative plans for the future, but also urge governments to act immediately. Collaborating with Tuvaluan government officials, Accenture developed and produced a film and website for Kofe’s COP27 speech. This was all done in just six weeks—in time for COP27.
The first step was to create a digital twin—a virtual representation—of Te Afualiku, a tiny islet that is expected to be one of the first parts of Tuvalu to be submerged. This would be the location from which Kofe would speak to COP27 attendees and other leaders around the world.
Digital twins are accurate, visually immersive virtual models of various real-world environments ranging from factories and cities to buildings and beaches.
“Te Afualiku has great cultural significance to our country,” said Kofe. “The name of the Island was originally called ‘Te Afu Alii’ which is translated as ‘the sweat of the Chief’. It speaks of the harsh environmental conditions of the islands that Tuvaluans have endured for centuries and has made people resilient. It is fitting that Afualiku is the location from which I called upon the world to change its ways in an effort to save our future. It is my hope that through our digital nation initiative we can preserve the history, culture, and everything that islets like Te Afualiku represents for Tuvaluans.”
Developers in Accenture’s Metaverse Continuum group received real-world, movie-quality photos, drone footage, and other videos from the Government of Tuvalu to recreate the island in the digital twin. They used a high-resolution, 3D-experience creation tool called Unreal Engine 5, including the use of Unreal’s Nanite system that incorporate physics principles and complex geometry into the digital twin, so that features like ocean waves, the direction of water currents, and beach sand are realistic.
Also built into the tool is a new technology called Lumin that accurately captures how light bounces off different surfaces to create reflections, shadows, and diffuse lighting. A user exploring the environment can experience trees, shale rock, and coral reefs in breathtaking detail as the light changes throughout the day—including sunrises and sunsets.
As Minister Kofe delivered his COP27 speech by video, the camera zoomed out, slowly revealing that he’s standing in a digital twin of Te Afualiku surrounded by a black void. The message is that Tuvalu has begun to build a digital nation due to rising sea levels, but it’s not too late to avoid this scenario—if the world acts swiftly.
At the end of the speech, Minister Kofe invited viewers to visit Tuvalu’s COP27 website, Tuvalu.tv—designed and built by Accenture. Visitors to the website can send a letter to their respective governments asking them to take stronger action to meet the targets in the Paris Climate Agreement. The website supports Tuvalu’s goal of avoiding a worst-case scenario.