Public water and electricity are back in vogue. Yet many state-owned utilities are now undergoing corporatisation: they have legal autonomy and manage their own finances. Is this a positive development in the struggle for equitable public services? Or a slippery slope toward privatization?
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.
We Own It organised the conference Own the Future: Public ownership in the 21st Century on 7th May, 2016 in London. A group of innovative, inspiring individuals gathered to start imagining the public ownership of the future: A vision for 2030 and a roadmap to get there. They tackled the key issues - robots, big data, power, space - and made a conscious effort to embrace the future.