UN-Habitat holds roundtable on floating cities

UN-Habitat convened a roundtable discussion on how floating cities could help solve urban challenges such as climate change and lack of affordable housing.

Over 70 architects, designers, academics and entrepreneurs gathered at UN headquarters in New York last week for a day-long roundtable discussion on how floating cities could be used to address housing shortages or house those fleeing from rising sea levels or other natural or climate-related disasters.

“We have come together here to think ahead and reimagine our cities and our urban agenda,” emphasized UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in her opening remarks.

Participants tied the notion of a floating city to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels said that floating cities could withstand severe weather conditions, produce their own power and food and manage water and waste disposal.

What’s more, these ideas could have a wider application. According to Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, “some of the most important benefits are not going to be in floating cities, but on land if you think about recycling waste and water.” Environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron agrees: “If we are able to create a closed loop system for floating cities, they will become role models for cities around the world.”

Marc Collins Chen, co-founder of Oceanix, which co-organized the meeting, said that his company now aims to build a prototype of a floating city on a reduced scale to “solve the small problems first”.

Image credit: Oceanix/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

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