The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the “Global Goals”, correspond to the 17 Goals determined by the members of the United Nations to find solutions to the problems that concern humanity. According to the statement of the Turkey branch of the United Nations Development Programme ,
These 17 Goals include good health and well-being, quality education, economic growth, industry, innovation, infrastructure, and climate action. All of the goals are interconnected, and common problems are addressed together. While SDGs are essential goals that affect our planet and humanity, people have been attempting to increase awareness by employing various technologies and concepts in several industries daily.
#Metaverse , one of the most prominent concepts of recent times, is one of the tools used for this purpose. Before we get into the relationship between SDGs and the metaverse in this article, let’s take a quick look at what metaverse is.
Metaverse is a decentralized and autonomous concept that liberates people regardless of location, time, and physical competence. It is a virtual universe that brings people together in a virtual space from wherever there is internet and technological infrastructure. People can explore and learn in these virtual universes. In addition to these, there are more important benefits: We can use metaverse to find solutions to our world’s problems. We can develop projects for SDGs using metaverse as a resource.
Some people still have a negative attitude towards the concept when they hear the word ‘metaverse’. However, when we consider the benefits and opportunities of metaverse, without neglecting the potential negative impacts of technology, we can carry out many studies on the metaverse to ensure sustainability. If we use metaverse to contribute to SDGs, we can make it more valuable. For example, the metaverse project called Island17; “a plan to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” is inspired by young people. (Faldemolaei, 2022). People are looking for solutions to achieve SDGs by supporting this game with metaverse and NFTs. In short, they aim to make metaverse intriguing through gamification and contribute to raising awareness.
As Keith Ferrazzi states in his book “Never Eat Alone”, “gaming” is an effective channel to deliver all kinds of messages to its target audience. We can provide trainings that can help us achieve SDGs or raise awareness about SDGs through gamification. In this way, it is possible to create positive effects for our planet by contributing to the sustainability that SDGs draw attention to.
With the understanding of the Metaverse and #SDG relationship, the public sector, the private sector, and the academicians must work together to raise awareness in this area. It is clear that when all of these activities come together, they create a more substantial impact. Formerly Facebook, now Meta; aims to work together with the government, industry, non-governmental organizations, and academia and constantly renews its agenda on human rights and civil rights. In short, sustainability can be achieved by a collaborative effort. We can say that government-supported funds, Venture Capitals, and academically supported studies in the use of Metaverse are crucial in giving the necessary importance to SDGs and taking action on SDGs.
One of the areas where we can look for solutions to SDGs with the metaverse is ‘Good Health and Well-being’‘, which is one of the ’17 Global Goals’. When we look at the research results, we see that approximately 400 million people around the world cannot benefit from primary health care and access safe and accessible health care. How can we combine the aims of the UN, which aims to improve health services, with the metaverse? How can the metaverse help SDGs?
Considering how costly and demanding health education is, we can say that providing medical education in the metaverse simultaneously on equal footing all over the world, eliminating the lack of case studies via flexible virtual practicing opportunities, and doctors-doctor candidates improving their medical skills with the tools in the metaverse can affect the quality of health and life in a very positive way.
That is because we will see an understanding of health care that is independent of location and physical competence. Examinations, treatments, and routine checkups can be performed in the virtual world. For example, you will be able to make an appointment with a doctor working in another part of the world. These types of improvements in health services will be possible with the metaverse. This will pave the way for everyone to have reliable access to basic health care.
Quality education is one of the other important 17 SDGs. It is crucial because the lack of equal opportunities in education is one of the biggest obstacles we face when providing quality education. For example, according to UNDP Turkey, 57 million children of primary school age in the world cannot receive basic education. Moreover, more than 4 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet, which corresponds to approximately 38% of the world population. When we look at this data, we can deduce that these areas should be improved to provide quality education to all. If we provide the technological infrastructure and meet the need for technological devices, the training modules that we will adapt to the metaverse may enable us to make this SDG possible.
Imagine that you are building a virtual classroom that is full of every need for education provision and you are providing quality education in that virtual universe. Children who receive education in this classroom can benefit from all kinds of educational material, knowledge, and experiment opportunities without any limitations. It can be ensured that students can do the experiments they want without the worry of the financial resources of the school. Instructors can interact with students more frequently since they will not be limited to a physical space. In this way, quality education can be provided relatively easily in the metaverse. The principles of equality and quality in education can thus be improved.
Another global goal that UN countries emphasize is “Climate Action”. The climate crisis and environmental problems are becoming much bigger problems as the carbon emissions caused by the actions and activities of people, countries, and organizations rise. We can minimize these problems if we utilize the metaverse platform effectively. We can mitigate the negative impact of our actions that are environmentally harmful if we start performing most activities in the metaverse. For example, if you can work without commuting between your workplace and home, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Imagine that you are working at your home without going to the office. Thus, we can reduce the carbon emissions we cause in our daily lives to some extent. We can also impact climate action positively if we don’t need to use unnecessary resources to spend time on entertainment industry activities such as attending concerts and going to museums. For example, the capital city of South Korea, Seoul, aims to become a metaverse city by investing over 3 million $ in the metaverse project. This way, the city will be able to reduce its carbon footprint while creating a new way of cultural tourism through metaverse. It will both contribute to the local economy and lead the way for the sector to become more sustainable.
Every sector, from the energy sector to agriculture, from the transportation sector to tourism, must do its part to achieve sustainability goals. As a result of this effort, new businesses would be created. For example, according to UNDP Turkey, employment in the renewable energy sector is expected to reach 20 million by 2030. Metaverse can also be seen as a platform that can provide new possibilities in these areas.
Each of the 17 Goals set by the UN for creating a sustainable world is highly important. By utilizing the metaverse platform, we can touch upon every area over time, create awareness in and emphasize the importance of all SDGs. In this way, by 2030, we can build a world where people can live their lives in peace and prosperity. It should be noted that metaverse is even more important and worth using when it co-exists with SDGs. If we utilize the opportunities of metaverse for achieving SDGs, we can protect our planet. A sustainable world is possible if we all work hard to achieve it…