Snapchat and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) will launch a new augmented reality tool aimed at encouraging the platform’s largely Gen Z user base to act and protect the imperilled Aussie icon.
The tool uses a “Water Segmentation Lens”, which when aimed at a body of water, shows a virtual reconstruction of the reef and its ongoing decline under climate change. For those without access to water, the tool also works as an augmented reality display.
“We know young Australians care passionately about combating climate change and will also experience its worst impacts in the future if we fail to act now,” Snapchat general manager for Asia-Pacific Kathryn Carter said.
“As a platform that reaches over 90 per cent of young Australians aged 13-24, we feel a deep responsibility to take action at the pace and scale that is needed to combat the worst impacts of climate change, both globally and here in Australia.”
By swiping up on the post, which will go live on Thursday, users are able to help bring the reef back to life both virtually and in reality, with every swipe equalling one heat-tolerant coral planted by the GBRF.
The aim is to plant one million such corals over summer.
“If they swipe up they’re essentially signing on to this environmental pledge, and through that we will then plant a coral on their behalf,” GBRF managing director Anna Marsden said.
Ms Marsden added that by tapping into Snapchat’s 306 million users globally, her organisation and others were also getting a sense of what protecting the reef meant to people around the world.
Earlier this year, the Australian government successfully pushed back against plans by UNESCO to list the reef as a “world heritage site in danger”.
Following discussions involving international UNESCO representatives, Australia was given until February 2022 to produce a report detailing the positive effects of conservation efforts.
However, Ms Marsden said work to save the reef over the coming “crucial” decade would continue regardless of politics and labels.
“We turn up for work every day like the reef is in danger, so the listing and the label doesn’t change our desire to protect it. This has got nothing to do with that global political diplomatic space,” she said.
“The reef is an icon and she’s been in trouble for the last few years and we know that people are really looking to know more, to understand the threats and understand what’s been done and to play a role in their own lives to help that.”