The IDEA Consortium takes a systems approach to understanding our common island home "Island Earth". The initiative integrates data from genome up and planet down. Work began with some of the best-known model ecosystems: the island of Moorea and the nearby atoll of Tetiaroa, in French Polynesia. The quest to build "Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars" is now extending to other islands in the region through the 4Site: Pacific Transect Collaborative (uniting Oahu, Palmyra, Moorea, and Tetiaroa - see Ocean-Shot article), as well as coastal and island communities in Europe (e.g., in Greece and Sweden). Research data management is a key aspect of the island avatars, and best practices for place-based data stewardship are being developed through the Fair Island Project in collaboration with the UC Natural Reserve System (particularly Santa Cruz Island Reserve).
The growing interest in extending "Digital Twins" from industrial products to living systems is stimulating fruitful exchanges over the transformational opportunities of social-ecological avatars. For example, at the European Marine Board's 7th Forum: Big Data in Marine Science (see Digital Twin Ocean: Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars (IDEA) for Sustainability, p.27).
Recognizing the importance of social-ecological foresight and digital twin technology to address many of society's 'wicked' problems, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) carried out an assessment of this emerging capacity (see Scientific Anticipatory Brief, Davies et al. 2020), and developed the 2021 Science Breakthrough Radar (presenting 216 breakthrough predictions at 5, 10 and 25 years’ time horizons) that included the topic: "World Simulation" (Neil Davies, Scientific Moderator). Following participation in the 2021 GESDA Summit (see GESDA21 Proceedings), work is continuing with GESDA on how to Navigate the 21st Century with Digital Empowerment.