Energy & Environment
Report April 18, 2023

Virtual reality for global climate leadership

By Peter Engelke and Rosemary Mann

A better future is possible. Virtual reality can’t solve the climate crisis, but it can incentivize leaders to build climate-resilient futures through substantive policy and investment.

This report explores the role of virtual reality (VR) as a policy tool that can shift leaders’ perceptions of the climate crisis. Authors Peter Engelke, deputy director and senior fellow for foresight at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy  and Rosemary Mann, director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, examine how VR technology can be honed and applied to high-level global climate leadership. If the technology is leveraged impactfully, VR can drive innovative policy and investments by shaping the ways leaders understand the impacts of climate-altered futures.

VR is an innovative tool that can transform how leaders perceive climate change. Leading organizations, therefore, should embrace the technology as a starting point for structured, systematic, and ongoing engagement with global leaders.

By providing audiences with intense and motivating experiences to associate with climate-altered futures, VR can incentivize policy and investment aimed at adapting to climate change and building a more sustainable, resilient future.

About Arsht-Rock and VR

The Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) engages in work with the gaming industry as a key climate intervention. More than three billion people globally are now “gamers,” making gaming a valuable tool to deliver messaging about responding to the climate crisis to a mass audience. VR offers a unique opportunity to impact high-level leaders through gaming by allowing them to virtually experience the human impacts of climate-altered futures. Arsht-Rock conducted a yearlong study on VR that led to three products: this report on VR’s potential as a tool to drive climate adaptation policy, a technical paper on best practices for building climate-related VR experiences, and a VR prototype.

About the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security

The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and its allies and partners.