The Use of VR for Environmental Education

art-278-01-14072020By illustrating the impact of climate change in a VR format, UNEP hopes to “memorably challenge some common misperceptions and inspire people to think differently about the choices they make each day”

The collaboration between United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Sony PlayStation in creating a virtual reality (VR) experience illustrating the impact of climate change demonstrates the potential VR has as a medium for environmental education.

This can be especially appealing to youths, as many of them today are open with new technology and have expressed concerns on climate change, and therefore are more willing to learn and understand ways to protect the planet by way of an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

UNEP believes that VR is the most suitable medium to enable people to experience climate change based on the following reasons:

VR can let us see things in their true size. Our carbon footprint is actually huge – six tonnes on average and up to around 30 if we are from a developed country or have a higher income. However, seeing numbers on a screen does not make us realise how big these numbers are.

Captivate audience. When we remove our real world and replace it with a virtual one, we are immersed in the message. We cannot check our phone, we cannot look out the window. If the artist does their job right, we can find ourselves simply engrossed in the new world around us.

Sound.  When immersion is mixed with the right audio, the experience creates a heightened emotional reaction. A wildfire that is roaring. A plane flying past. In the video, the developers have gone further with 8D sound – a trick of the audio engineers to make sounds seem outside of our head.

Magic. Virtual reality does not need to be zombie games and space wars. It can be beauty, and wonder. By engaging artists to create virtual worlds, we harness the power of art and storytelling.


UN Environment Programme (2020). Experience Your Carbon Footprint in VR [Online]. Available at:

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