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Sustainable floating cities topic of conversation at UN

24 April 2019

UN-Habitat convened with a broad range of partners to explore innovative solutions to the threat faced by coastal cities and countries due to rising sea levels.

Aerial view (Credit: Oceanix)

The Roundtable co-convened with Oceanix, the MIT Centre for Ocean Engineering and the Explorers Club, brought together innovators, explorers, marine engineers and scientists to the UN Headquarters to share cutting-edge ideas. 

Two out of every five people in the world live within 62 miles of the coast and one in ten lives in coastal areas less than 10 metres above sea level. The clear majority of coastal areas will be affected by coastal erosion and flooding, displacing millions of people, destroying homes and infrastructure. 

“We are the UN agency mandated to work with cities, be they on land or water. We are ready to engage in dialogue on Sustainable Floating Cities to ensure this burgeoning sector is mobilised to good effect and for the benefit of all people,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat and UN Under Secretary-General. 

The Roundtable explored possible solutions to this looming catastrophe including self-sustaining floating cities, which produce their own food, energy, fresh water and zero waste. The design of Oceanix City, the world’s first sustainable floating city for 10 thousand residents, was unveiled in support of UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda. 

Marc Collins Chen, the co-Founder and CEO of Oceanix said humans can live on floating cities in harmony with life below water. 

“It is not a question of one versus the other. The technology exists for us to live on water, without killing marine ecosystems,” he said. “It is our goal to make sure sustainable floating cities are affordable and available to all coastal areas in need. They should not become a privilege of the rich.” 

Oceanix City is not only sustainable, but also flood-proof and designed to survive mega storms. In the event of long-term major shift in weather patterns, the entire floating city can be unmoored and towed to a more suitable location. 

“Nine out of 10 of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas by 2050. The sea is our fate – it may also be our future. The first sustainable and self-sustained floating community Oceanix City is designed as a human made ecosystem channelling circular flows of energy, water, food and waste. Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals. The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighbourhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000 – with the possibility of scaling indefinitely to provide thriving nautical communities for people who care about each other and our planet,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Video courtesy of Oceanix.


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