A company is planning to build the world’s first floating city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The government of French Polynesia has signed an agreement with a US firm and they hope construction work will begin in 2019. The Seasteading Institute has spent the past five years trying to work out how to build “permanent, innovative communities floating at sea”.

French Polynesia, a collection of 118 islands in the southern Pacific, is at risk from rising sea levels . The government of the islands has signed a memorandum of understanding with the San Francisco-based institute, according to ABC. This will lead to further studies about the economic and environmental impact of the scheme, plus investigations into the legal implications of a floating city.

Randolph Hencken, executive director of the institute, said: “What we’re interested in is societal choice and having a location where we can try things that haven’t been tried before. “I don’t think it will be that dramatically radical in the first renditions. “We were looking for sheltered waters, we don’t want to be out in the open ocean – it’s technologically possible but economically outrageous to afford. “If we can be behind a reef break, then we can design floating platforms that are sufficient for those waters at an affordable cost. “We don’t have to start from scratch as this is a pilot project. “They also have very stable institutions so we’re able to work with a government that wants us there, that we have respect for and they have respect for us.”

Mr Hencken is hopeful the government of French Polynesia will support his firm’s efforts: “We are confident there will be both a direct and an indirect benefit for them economically. “They are a tourist-based economy and they’re excited to bring us in because we are a technology-based idea.”

After initial studies, it is hoped draft legislation will be drawn up next year and construction can begin in 2019.

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