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How Come People Are Building Entire Cities On The Ocean?

It may seem a bit far-fetched that an entire city can be built on the ocean, but in reality, it’s already been done. The story starts with one man, Roy Bates. The year was 1967 when Bates decided to take refuge on an abandoned British naval base off the coast of British territory. Bates declared that his new found home was actually an independent state sovereign from the old country because it fulfilled all the requirements by definition. The micro-city was in international waters, it had a government, territory, a permanent population, and the ability to communicate with other nations.

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Although Bates never officially applied to have the city recognized, he named it Sealand and lived there peacefully until 1987 when Britain “extended” their borders and claimed it.  Roys son Michael doesn’t think this is even an issue and Sealand met the requirements stated in the Montevideo Convention, a long time ago,“We’ve had the German ambassador visit at one point to discuss something: that was de facto recognition. We’ve had communication with the president of France many years ago, but we have never asked for recognition and we don’t feel we need it”.

Now, technically Bates didn’t build the city but rather reclaimed abandoned infrastructure, some people are pondering the idea of creating a new Sealand, from start to finish. The idea of having massing floating cities isn’t too far advanced for the near future, but it’s going to take some serious funding and hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s support. The more people that endorse the idea, the less likely large nations will be able to silence the budding idea–which brings me to my next point.

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The Venus Project, according to their website, is “an organization that proposes a feasible plan of action for social change; a holistic global socio-economic system called a Resource Based Economy that works toward a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are not only paper proclamations, but also a way of life”. The organization has plans for the water cities, which include essentially becoming self-producing islands, that benefit the environment around it, and we can’t help but think their plans sound like Utopia, “Many of these ocean cities may serve as oceanographic universities that maintain the ecological balance of marine systems. Others will maintain sea farms that will cultivate many forms of marine life. They could also be used as a new resource for mining the relatively untapped resources of the oceans without disturbing its ecology”.

Although the plans sound like the solution to world hunger and the increasing damage to our environment, there is no direct information on HOW these cities are going to be built. We can only hope, that sometime soon technology and social interest will turn the plans into reality.

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Another organization that is interested in building floating cities, is The Seasteading Institute. On their website, they state that unlike the Venus Project, they have a more realistic grasp on what actually needs to be done and how to do it,“Seasteading is an audacious vision that will take decades to fully realize. We strongly believe in incrementalism — breaking this huge vision down into manageable, practical steps. Our current strategy centers around the Floating City Project, through which we are crafting practical plans for the world’s first seastead, designed around the needs of actual potential residents, and located within a “host” nation’s protected, territorial waters”. The Floating City Project they speak of is actually already underway.

French Polynesia is going to be the first nation to build a floating city, as they plan on starting as soon as Spring 2018. The project will only be completed if the following three criteria are met:

  1. A study of the economic impact the endeavor would have on French Polynesians.
  2. Preparation of an environmental framework report and integration plan to require that the floating islands are a positive contribution to the environment.
  3. A legal framework for the Seazone, a legal regime incorporating the best practices of over 4000 Special Economic Zones around the world.

It is still unsure what daily life would be like on these floating cities, but it’s assumed that whichever country they are located in, will dictate the laws. There is still much to be done before we see any structure actually being built, but the hope for the future is bright.

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Remi Koene
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