The Future is Public: Towards Democratic Ownership of Public Services

12 May 2020Book

Resistance to privatisation has turned into a powerful force for change. (Re)municipalisation refers to the reclaiming of public ownership of services as well as the creation of new public services. In recent years, our research has identified more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalisation cases involving more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries around the world. EditorsSatoko KishimotoLavinia SteinfortOlivier PetitjeanIn collaboration withMultinationals ObservatoryAustrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK)Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)Danish Union of Public Employees (FOA)De 99 Van AmsterdamThe Democracy CollaborativeEuropean Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU)Ingeniería Sin Fronteras Cataluña (ISF)MODATIMA (Movement of defence of water, land and the environment)Municipal Services ProjectFederatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV)Norwegian Union for Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet)Public Services International (PSI)Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)University of GlasgowWe Own ItISBN/ISSN

  • 9789071007002

ProgrammesPublic Alternatives

But this book is about more than just numbers. It shows that public services are more important than ever in the face of the climate catastrophe, mounting inequalities, and growing political unrest. Together, civil society organisations, trade unions, and local authorities are crafting new templates for how to expand democratic public ownership to all levels of society and opening up new routes to community-led and climate conscious public services.

The Covid-19 crisis has made clear the disastrous effects of years of austerity, social security cuts, and public service privatisation. But it has also demonstrated that public services and the people who operate them are truly the foundation of healthy and resilient societies. As privatisation fails, a growing international movement is choosing (re)municipalisation as a key tool for redefining public ownership for the 21st century.

Download the full book here and the executive summary here.

Find the Public Futures Global database here

Table of contents

Infographics – (Re)municipalisation 11 country profiles

(click for enlargement)



Introduction by the Editorial Team

Part 1. Reclaiming public services around the world

Chapter 1 Norway: Bankruptcy sparks more than 100 cases of remunicipalisation– By Nina Monsen and Bjørn Pettersen

Chapter 2 Paris celebrates a decade of public water success – By Célia Blauel

Chapter 3 Canada: Local insourcing in face of national privatisation push – By Robert Ramsay

Chapter 4 Problems without benefits? The Danish experience with outsourcing and remunicipalisation – By Thomas Enghausen

Chapter 5 Africa: Private waste service failure and alternative vision – By Vera Weghmann

Chapter 6 National, regional and local moves towards public ownership in the UK – By David Hall

Chapter 7 Putting the ‘public’ in public services: (Re)municipalisation cases in Malaysia and the Philippines – By Mary Ann Manahan and Laura Stegemann

Chapter 8 Rebuilding public ownership in Chile: Social practices of the Recoleta commune and challenges to overcoming neoliberalism – By Alexander Panez Pinto

Chapter 9 United States: Communities providing affordable, fast broadband Internet – By Thomas M. Hanna and Christopher Mitchell

Part 2. From (re)municipalisation to democratic public ownership

Chapter 10 A new water culture: Catalonia’s public co-governance model in the making – By Míriam Planas and Juan Martínez

Chapter 11 The empire strikes back: Corporate responses to remunicipalisation – By Olivier Petitjean

Chapter 12 The labour dimension of remunicipalisation: Public service workers and trade unions in transition – By Daria Cibrario

Chapter 13 Knowledge creation and sharing through public-public partnership in the water sector – By Milo Fiasconaro

Chapter 14 Transforming the state: Towards democracy-driven public ownership – By Hilary Wainwright

Chapter 15 Putting energy democracy at the heart of a Green New Deal to counter the climate catastrophe – By Lavinia Steinfort

Conclusion by the Editorial TeamDownload: The future is public: Towards democratic ownership of public services(pdf, 9.59 MB)Executive summary – The future is public(pdf, 4.25 MB)Average time to read: 15 minutes

Download: The future is public: Towards democratic ownership of public services(pdf, 9.59 MB)Executive summary – The future is public(pdf, 4.25 MB)Average time to read: 15 minutes

The COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing climate catastrophe show that it’s time for a Green New Deal that funds equitable public futures. It’s time to dismantle the fossil fuel industry, to rebuild democracies and essential services and value workers as the cornerstones of our societies. This book is a vital global guide for our time, for local governments and people’s movements to build socially just futures from the ground up. 

Kate Aronoff

Now is the time to design a feminist bailout that serves people, not corporations. The COVID-19 crisis shows we are only as safe, healthy and resilient as the most oppressed among us. This is an absolute must-read for everyone fighting for feminist realities, where public services are run by collective power and care for both human and non-human life. 

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

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