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October 7, 2016

Seasteading in French Polynesia

[By Executive Director Randolph Hencken. 2 minute read]

Seasteading is an opportunity to develop new technologies for living on the oceans that could translate into more sustainable habitats elsewhere. It has the power to provide new lands for people whose current habitats are threatened by sea level rise, overcrowding, or other dangerous conditions.

Our Goals
Our goal is to prototype the first seastead in the calm waters of French Polynesia. As a pilot, we are calling this our “Floating Island Project”. The pilot will consist of two or three floating platforms linked together and is projected to cost $30M to $50M. We anticipate adding many more modules to the pilot in the following years, organically growing into a city, while also spreading the technology for seasteads across French Polynesia, the Pacific, and the world. When launched, our project will bring new technologies, new research, and new economic activity to French Polynesia.

This project is a collaboration with the government and people of French Polynesia. Our efforts in French Polynesia were initiated by Marc Collins (Smart Tahiti Networks, former minister of tourism) a forward-thinking Tahitian businessman. He introduced us to Teva Rohfritsch, Minister of Economic Recovery and Blue Economy, who in turn encouraged President Édouard Fritch to invite us to the Presidential Palace to present our proposal.

In order to accomplish our goals we are working with the French Polynesian government to create a Special Economic Zone with anchor locations on shore and areas at sea where we can construct floating infrastructure, operate businesses, and reside. We are not asking French Polynesia to fund the project.

Seasteading is a Technology, not a Utopian Fantasy
Our pilot project is a platform for innovation in technology and community. It is not, as some have speculated, an anarchistic or libertarian fantasy. The Seasteading Institute has always promoted a vision that opening the ocean to human habitations will allow more choice in societal structures. We champion the creation of thousands of seasteads worldwide, each free to explore its own ideas of how to live together creating innovative solutions to societal problems. Seasteading is a technology for anybody to try their vision of society. This French Polynesian opportunity presents a pragmatic avenue to create and showcase floating communities.

The floating islands will be a part of French Polynesia and will act accordingly. While the Special Economic Zone will be privately administered with some unique jurisdictional opportunities such as private arbitration – many French and French Polynesian laws will still apply.

Our Founders
The Seasteading Institute owes its founding to Peter Thiel and Patri Friedman. That said, neither are currently involved in the day-to-day affairs of the Institute, nor are they responsible for or managing our French Polynesian effort.

Friedman resigned his position as Executive Director of The Seasteading Institute in 2011, and has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors ever since. While his namesake and personal politics may lead some to believe that his interest lie in creating libertarian islands, he is in fact a much broader thinker and is responsible for creating the vision of polycentric governments at sea. His vision has always been that if people lived on seasteads that can detach and reassemble, the seastead governments would compete to attract residents, rather than have monopolies over how governments affect citizens’ lives.

French Polynesia+Seasteading = Win-Win
Polynesians have a strong interest in resilient programs around sustainable technologies and economic development. The first floating community will have opportunities to partner with the international community to create specific applications for cutting-edge clean technology around energy and water. The Honotua submarine cable system provides substantial fiber optic bandwidth enabling workers and businesses from all over the world to live on seasteads. A French Polynesian seastead could become an international hub for Blue Economy innovation that creates jobs locally.

French Polynesia is an idyllic paradise. The waters and islands are gorgeous. The people are friendly. The government is stable and free from corruption. Crime is low and there are no threats of war. As seasteaders, we would be honored to be welcomed into their nation to work together to build the future.