The idea of building an entire city that floats atop the world’s oceans and can withstand massive storms sounds like something out of science fiction. But at a recent United Nations round table, one organization’s floating city concept not only received support, but also genuine interest from numerous officials to help develop it.

UN-Habitat, a branch of the organization devoted specifically to sustainable urban development, will now join forces with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Explorers Club, and the private firm Oceanix to actualize the concept.

The idea is simple in theory, but incredibly complex in practice. Oceanix envisions floating communities capable of supporting populations of 10,000 each and even of protecting inhabitants from immense storms. These floating cities are meant to offer an alternative to various efforts around the world to expand buildable territory by pouring sand or other materials into coastal areas. According to Oceanix, these practices pose not only substantial risk to coastal marine life, but also provide little protection for inhabitants of these new land masses against global weather threats like hurricanes, cyclones, or tsunamis.

As sea levels continue to rise, these reclaimed patches of land will be increasingly difficult to maintain—but floating cities remain in place, regardless of fluctuating water.