Blue Frontiers is a company that aims to build sustainable floating islands with unique governing frameworks. It plans to do this using a specially-designed cryptocurrency called Varyon.
According to the official website, ‘seasteading’ is the technological solution to the problems of centralised government – inefficiency, representatives that do not serve their constituents, etc.
The project is intrinsically linked to cryptocurrency – in fact, the website presents seasteads as physical extensions of digital decentralisation. The aim is to set up territories where “the evolution of new societies and forms of governance can occur.”
“Governments will no longer have a monopoly on the space where citizens live and businesses conduct their commercial activities,” proclaims the ambitious project.
Varyon is the cryptocurrency which will fund the building of the seasteads, and is to be the official currency of the ‘SeaZones’. According to the coin’s white paper, these are areas which will be afforded “substantial flexibility or exemptions in fiscal, customs, labor, permits, and other select regulatory matters.”
To this end, Blue Frontiers is in discussion with the government of French Polynesia. Political scientist Nathalie Mezza-Garcia told CNBC: “There is significance to this project being trialed in the Polynesian Islands. This is the region where land is resting on coral and will disappear with rising sea levels.”
“Once we can see how this first island works, we will have a proof of concept to plan for islands to house climate refugees,” she added.
The white paper describes a setup involving mobile, floating buildings, allowing for “the formation, reformation, and dissolution of networks, neighborhoods, cities, and eventually nation-states in international waters.”
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Said Mezza-Garcia: “If you don’t want to live under a particular government, people will be able to just take their house and float away to another island.”
The first project is estimated to be completed by 2022 and cost up to $50 million, according to CNBC. It will hold 300 homes.
This ambitious project raises interesting questions about jurisdiction and legality.
According to the United Nations, artificial islands are bound by the laws of the closest coastal state if within 200 nautical miles of the shore. Beyond that limit they would be outside of any national jurisdiction.
However, micronations tend to be disregarded by national governments. These are entities that claim statehood but do not comply with all of the UN’s four criteria for defining a country: a defined territory/a permanent population/a government/the ability to enter into relations with another state. Their small scale differentiates them from war-generating situations such as secession/invasion.
They have been declared as a protest (the Independent State of Aramoana seceded from New Zealand in 1980; was peacefully reintegrated the following year), as a joke (the Kingdom of Lovely was established in an East London flat in 2005), and conceptual art (Elgaland-Vargaland, defined by two Swedish artists as the borders of all nations, at one point claimed 980 citizens).
It follows that if this project grows to any significant size, its call to “liberate humanity from politicians” could attract the attention of that very group; governments do not tend to take secession of territory and/or citizens lightly.
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The proceeds will be used to build and consolidate the islands, according to the website.