IGF 2023 Open Forum #20 Benefits and challenges of the immersive realities

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (06:15 UTC) - Monday, 9th October, 2023 (07:15 UTC)
WS 8 – Room C-1


Round Table - 60 Min


As the concept of the Metaverse and immersive realities continues to gain attraction, it becomes increasingly important to understand its potential impact on our societies and individuals, as well as on the core values of the Council of Europe. Experience from the digital evolution suggests that the speed of technological progress exceeds the speed of our understanding of societal impact of use of such technologies and, subsequently, elaboration of legal regulatory mechanisms to address identified challenges. It is important to explore and to understand how much immersive realities can contribute to improvements in daily lives of the citizens, but also how they might impact democratic institutions and processes and enjoyment of fundamental rights. Industry representatives, human rights organizations, Council of Europe partner organizations will be invited to contribute to the discussion in all its aspects. The discussions will provide glimpse of industry vision and policy approaches to the design and application of immersive technologies. It will also explore best practices for protecting fundamental rights in the context of the virtual realities, as well as the ways of identifying potential legal and regulatory challenges. The findings of a joint comprehensive Report elaborated for the Council of Europe by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and its findings exploring these and other challenges immersive realities pose will be discussed during the session.

The session will be promoted on the Council of Europe channels, as well as within the IEEE large network of professionals in order to broaden the participation to the debate. The session foresees a Q/A both with interventions from the floor and online, including in the chat.


🔒Council of Europe
Rodica Ciochina, Council of Europe


Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department, Council of Europe - Human Rights perspective

Clara Neppel, Senior Director Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Brian Kemler, Senior Product Manager, META

Melodena Stephens, Professor of Innovation and Technology Governance, Mohammed Bin Rashid School of the Goverment

Other speakers (TBC)

Onsite Moderator

Irene Kitsara, European Standardization Initiatives Director, Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

Online Moderator

Rodica Ciochina, Programme Specialist, Council of Europe


Rodica Ciochina, Programe Specialist, Council of Europe


1. No Poverty
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
13. Climate Action

Targets: The metaverse has the potential to impact or be related to the SDGs in multiple ways, such as: 1. No Poverty (SDG 1): The metaverse can provide new income opportunities for people, especially those who are in poverty or live in rural areas. For example, individuals can monetize their skills and services in the metaverse by selling virtual products, creating virtual events, or offering virtual experiences. 2. Quality Education (SDG 4): The metaverse can enhance education by providing immersive and interactive learning experiences. For example, students can take virtual field trips to other countries or historical sites, interact with experts in various fields, or participate in simulations and experiments. 3. Gender Equality (SDG 5): The metaverse can provide a safe and equal environment for women and girls to participate in the digital economy. For example, virtual reality can provide women with new job opportunities in fields like gaming, esports, and digital art, where they are underrepresented. 4. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9): The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize various sectors and industries, creating new markets and opportunities. For example, the metaverse can enhance supply chains by tracking and verifying the origin and authenticity of products using blockchain technology. 5. Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11): The metaverse can support sustainable urban planning and design by enabling virtual city modeling and analysis. For example, urban planners can create virtual replicas of cities and simulate the impact of infrastructure projects on traffic, air quality, and water resources. 6. Climate Action (SDG 13): The metaverse can raise awareness and support for climate action by providing immersive experiences of climate change impacts and solutions. For example, virtual reality experiences can simulate the effects of rising sea levels, wildfires, and extreme weather events, and encourage individuals and communities to take action. Overall, the metaverse can provide new opportunities and solutions to achieve the SDGs, but it is important to ensure that it promotes inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability in its development and implementation. Nevertheless, along with the potential benefits, the metaverse could also bring several challenges to the achievement of the SDGs, such as: 1. Inequality: The development and access to the metaverse could exacerbate existing inequalities. Low-income individuals or those in developing countries may not have the means to participate in this virtual economy, resulting in a wider wealth gap. 2. Privacy and Security: The metaverse requires the collection of personal data to function, and this data can be vulnerable to cyber threats and exploitation, leading to privacy violations and security breaches. 3. Environmental Impact: The metaverse requires significant energy consumption and computing power, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change. 4. Addiction and Isolation: The metaverse, if not used in moderation, can cause addiction and social isolation, leading to mental health issues and a decline in physical activity and human interaction. 5. Legal and Ethical Issues: The metaverse poses new legal and ethical challenges such as copyright infringement, intellectual property rights, and the regulation of immersive and realistic content. Overall, the metaverse's development and implementation need to address these challenges and ensure that it aligns with the principles of sustainability, equity, and inclusivity to promote the achievement of the SDGs