From Austria to Chile, Lagos to London, people are demanding policies that democratize economies and keep public resources in public hands. In just the last decade, more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries have brought privatized resources back under public control. Laura Flanders reports from Amsterdam at The Future is Public, a conference co-hosted by TNI that brings together hundreds of organizers, scholars, and government officials who are working to democratize their municipal and national economies.
In a Europe governed in the interests of the few, where the far right is on the rise, towns and cities are building new ways to do politics and defend the common good from the bottom up. In Spain, 'cities of change' are combating speculation and defending the right to housing. In Italy, local governments are creating new legal mechanisms to protect the urban commons, and cities across Europe are taking energy and water delivery back into public hands after failed privatisations. Municipalism is transforming Europe from the bottom up.
The debate on alternatives to privatised ownership models for public services is back on the academic and political agenda. What's driving remuncipalisation and why is it a better alternative than private provision?
On 9 October 2017, the Turin City Council turned back privatisation and took another step towards the remunicipalisation of its metropolitan water system. And so the city entered the next phase of its long march towards water sovereignty, begun in the aftermath of the Second World War on the ruins of a town half-destroyed by allied bombing and by Nazi/Fascist retaliations against the democratic popular resistance.
Reclaiming Public Services is vital reading for anyone interested in the future of local, democratic services like energy, water and health care. This is an in-depth world tour of new initiatives in public ownership and the variety of approaches to deprivatisation.
Barcelona, March 22, World Water Day – Confronted with the failings of water privatisation, cities and citizens of Terrassa and Barcelona, in Catalonia, have moved to return water services to public and democratic control, improving their quality and accessibility.
While water privatisation continues to be imposed throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, more and more communities are demanding public management of water and wastewater services and forcing out private actors. On World Water Day we bring you 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim control over this essential resource.
Spain maybe on the edge of a remunicipalisation renaissance, with all the relevant legal, financial and technical issues attracting surprisingly intense interest throughout the state. These trends in Spain provide inspiring examples for other countries too, in Europe and worldwide. On 1st December Barcelona City Council organised a remarkable conference on the topic.
The first CITIES FOR PUBLIC WATER MEETING took place on 3rd and 4th November, 2016 in Madrid, convened by La Red Agua Pública/the Public Water network in collaboration with the Municipal Council of Madrid. The event can be considered a milestone in the public water movement as it has strengthened the alliance of different actors involved in the defence of the public management of water, from a perspective of common good and human rights and will permit a closer collaboration with municipal councils and other public institutions (universities, professional colleges, cultural entities, etc.) in the future.
International Water Justice community sent the petition to the Supreme Court of Indonesia. Residents of Jakarta filed a citizen lawsuit against water privatisation in Jakarta at Central Jakarta District Court in November 2012. They argued in the lawsuit that water privatisation failed to fulfil the residents’ access to safe water, caused a series of corruptions and financial harm to the public budgets. In March 2015, the court ruled in favour of the residents, annulling the contract agreement with two private water operators. It was a significant victory of people. The decision, however, was challenged by these private companies and other defendants. Unfortunately the residents lost in the High Court in February 2016. Jakarta people decided to challenge the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.
Water Justice organisations from around the world jointly produced an online water justice toolkit to consolidate our knowledge base and support local campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.
A return to public forms of administration in water supplies is a phenomenon that has been spreading globally. Over the past 15 years almost 235 cities around the world, among them Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur have either terminated or have desisted from renewing the contracts with private concessionary companies. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, for example, water delivery is, by a tradition, almost 100 percent public.
After 18 years of underperforming private management, water services in Jakarta could be returning to public management to guarantee the human right to water in accordance with the Central Jakarta District Court ruling of 24 March 2015, which annulled the current contract agreements.
We often use the term "Commons" to explain, that we aim at transforming our societal organization. But which realistic concepts do we have at hand to regain the control over our energy system? We need to ask the question of ownership: Shall the energy system pass into public ownership? Shall we fight for it on all levels, at the municipal, regional and national level?
The water management situation in the region of Catalonia, Spain is catastrophic. The omnipresence of the private water sector is creating hugely negative impacts at the economic, social and environmental levels. As a result, Catalan municipalities are being swept by the wave of water remunicipalisation that is taking place across the globe, and the drive to recover public management of water systems is gaining force.
Public water operators and social movements from 90 countries gathered in Barcelona in mid-September to reflect on how to consolidate a public model of water provision and how to address critical issues of financing clean water for all.