Manila, 4/27/38 T.A.D. – With Tuvalu and the Maldives permanently evacuated and other island nations battling for survival against climate change and record sea levels, The Island Coalition for Climate Refugees (ICCR), a group of island nations and former island nations, has an ambitious proposal to build a new home for Oceania’s refugees. It comes in response to reports of deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the floating shanty town and refugee camp known as “The Pod.”
Euphemistically named after groups of dolphins, The Pod consists of a haphazard fleet of tied-together vessels, including three decommissioned cruise ships and a cargo container super-freighter that carry the bulk of The Pod’s estimated 80,000 residents. The flotilla has been described as a nautical hazard, a pollution source, and a humanitarian nightmare for authorities in countries whose territorial waters it has entered.
The ICCR has proposed an imaginative solution to address the dire conditions in The Pod: The World Canoe, a high-tech floating city designed to replace the makeshift shanty town.
The ICCR’s vision for the World Canoe is to create a self-sustained, eco-friendly city that preserves the unique cultures, languages, and traditions of the affected islanders. The new city would provide a safe haven for climate refugees and would also minimize the environmental and navigational risks posed by The Pod.
As the situation in The Pod becomes increasingly desperate, its inhabitants have been forced to create makeshift living spaces in any available area. One such area, dubbed “The Fishies,” is a long trail of towed or sailed craft that trails behind the main body of The Pod. The Fishies has become a slum within the already impoverished Pod, with living conditions described as abhorrent and food and fresh water scarce.
Arvin Cooper, a former Tuvalese seaplane pilot who now calls The Fishies his home, paints a vivid picture of the daily struggles faced by its residents: “The water’s so dirty you can’t see your own reflection, and the smell is like a thousand rotting fish. Every day there are fights and people are getting out of control. It’s not right!”
In response to the plight of The Pod’s inhabitants, the ICCR has garnered support from environmentalists, human rights activists, governments, philanthropists, and private corporations. The World Canoe project hopes to provide a safe and sustainable environment for the displaced communities but also to serve as a symbol of hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity.
New Zealand-born Alexander Kerr, CEO of sustainable seafood company Abundance Intl., is among the early supporters of the World Canoe project, pledging a significant portion of his personal fortune to help bring it to fruition. “The World Canoe represents a vital opportunity to not only address the urgent needs of people in The Pod but to also preserve the rich cultural heritage of these vanishing communities,” says Kerr.
As the World Canoe project gains momentum, the ICCR is working closely with renowned architectural firms, marine engineers, and environmental scientists to create a visionary design that addresses the complex needs of the population.
Reporting for Future News, this is Mariella Sangrazia in Manila.