A nonprofit called Oceanix is building a prototype floating island as an experimental solution for crowded coastal cities threatened by climate change, the company told the United Nations habitat program Wednesday.
Such buoyant islands would be linked together into floating, self-sustaining cities that rise with sea levels and are built to withstand hurricanes, according to a group of architects, engineers and developers who met at the U.N. headquarters. The prototype will be a small-scale version that could be ready within months, said Marc Collins Chen, an entrepreneur and former French Polynesian politician who founded Oceanix.
Officials at the United Nations welcomed the proposal but have not officially joined the plan to create floating cities. The idea might sound outlandish, but urban coasts are running out of land and becoming increasingly vulnerable as sea levels are projected to rise as much as seven inches by 2030. Ninety percent of the largest global cities are vulnerable to climate change, said U.N. habitat deputy director Victor Kisob. To reclaim shrunken coastlines, Singapore and other seaside megacities already pour sand into the ocean, and sand is quickly becoming a scarce resource.