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ITU and Partners Advance Virtual Worlds to Shape Future City Living

The global initiative for virtual worlds to support sustainable development and enhance city life was announced today at the first UN Virtual Worlds Day at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds – Discovering the CitiVerse will define norms and principles to guide the governance of metaverse solutions in cities for areas such as urban planning, education, and municipal services.

Led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN International Computing Centre (UNICC) and Digital Dubai, the initiative will drive capacity development, facilitate sharing of best practices, and develop a sandbox environment for cities to simulate virtual world scenarios.

“By harnessing the transformative power of virtual worlds, we can accelerate progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “The virtual worlds initiative is an essential step on the path of metaverse innovation that can enrich the lives of people in cities around the world.”

Advancing progress on virtual worlds

UN Virtual Worlds Day highlights the transformative power of virtual worlds, including the metaverse and spatial computing, to accelerate the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new initiative launched at the event builds on the work of ITU’s Focus Group on metaverse, which has laid the groundwork for international standards to support an open, inclusive metaverse that drives progress towards the SDGs.

Established in late 2022, the focus group has identified compelling opportunities for the metaverse to support smart cities.

In urban planning and management, city leaders could simulate their innovations before implementation at scale. A virtual city space can also advance education and training, improve access to public services, and support participatory governance.

The Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds will complement the work of ITU’s standardization expert group for the Internet of Things and smart cities and communities, ITU-T Study Group 20​. It will also work alongside United for Smart Sustainable Cities, a UN initiative supported by ITU together with 19 UN partners.

The initiative rests on three pillars that will bring the CitiVerse from concept to community:​

  • Bringing the CitiVerse to Life: Developing expert guidance, raising awareness around CitiVerse opportunities and challenges, and developing and adopting key performance indicators.
  • Connecting Cities with the Virtual and Real Worlds: Advancing cities’ integration of emerging technologies, curating CitiVerse use cases, and developing a sandbox environment and related technical tools.
  • Tunneling the CitiVerse: Fostering a community of practice to encourage collaboration among cities, organizing urban problem-solving competitions, and implementing training programmes to boost CitiVerse expertise.

Virtual worlds adding real value to city life

The launch of Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds – Discovering the CitiVerse, comes alongside a new UN Executive Briefing​ developed by ITU, the UN Agency for Digital Technologies, together with 17 UN partners, on the relevance of virtual worlds and the metaverse to the SDGs.

The UN Executive Briefing also stresses the essential factors – such as responsible technology governance, ethical considerations, and privacy and security concerns – that need to be addressed to ensure that the benefits of virtual worlds are fully realized.

ITU’s partners on the Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds – Discovering the CitiVerse

H.E. Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of Digital Dubai and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds, said: “In Dubai, we are always striving to build international partnerships and enhance global cooperation to support the acceleration of digital transformation in cities and countries. I am proud that the Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds was proposed by Digital Dubai, and I thank our United Nations partners, the ITU and UNICC, for their strong support. International cooperation has always been an integral part of Dubai’s journey, aimed at future foresight to achieve human happiness and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC, said: “At UNICC, we are thrilled to be part of this innovative global initiative with ITU and Digital Dubai. We believe this initiative allows us to explore metaverse solutions that better meet citizens’ needs and share knowledge and best practices among cities worldwide. By paving the way for future innovations through such a platform, we can unlock the potential of virtual worlds to improve public service delivery, optimize the use of public resources, and enhance citizen participation.”


  • Learn more about the Global Initiative on Virtual Worlds – Discovering the CitiVerse here.​
  • Learn more about the UN Virtual Worlds Day here.
  • Read the UN Executive Briefing here.
  • Find out more about the ITU Focus Group on metaverse here.
  • Find out more about the ITU-T Study Group 20 working on the Internet of Things, smart cities and communities here.

Source: ITU

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