A new initiative to create sustainable floating cities, or “seasteading” communities, is one step closer to reality thanks in part to Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law Professor Tom W. Bell.
Professor Bell has been working with the nonprofit organization behind the project, The Seasteading Institute, providing legal advice on creating the new system. Professor Bell recently drafted the original version of a memorandum of understanding between the Institute and the French Polynesian government, which will offer its waters as home to the first Floating Island Project by the Institute.
According to the agreement, the Floating Island Project will advance French Polynesia’s Blue Economy Initiative, offering an opportunity to adapt to rising sea levels and create a space for innovation.
One of the ultimate goals for The Seasteading Institute is to allow communities to peacefully test new ideas for government. In the coming months, Professor Bell will work with the Institute to design the world’s first two-part special jurisdiction – with one part on land and one on water – and draft the implementing legislation.
“The Floating Island Project in French Polynesia has provided a rare opportunity to put the legal theory of special jurisdictions to work in the real world,” noted Professor Bell, who has been actively writing and speaking on the subject. His forthcoming book, Your Next Government? From the Nation State to Stateless Nations (Cambridge University Press 2017), provides details about the seasteaders’ legal adventures. He presented “Special Jurisdictions, French Polynesia, and the Future of Seasteading,” at the American Society of International Law, International Legal Theory Interest Group Annual Symposium: The Future of the State, in Washington, D.C., on December 8, 2016, and was featured in the story, French Polynesia Open to Seasteading Collaboration, published on The Seasteading Institute’s blog on September 19, 2016. He also discussed seasteading in the podcast SeaZones Compared to Nation States? featured on The Seasteading Institute’s website last February.
Above: Floating Island Project design, courtesy of The Seasteading Institute