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Media Release

March 12, 2012
New book uncovers private failures leading cities to take back control of water worldwide

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the Municipal Services Project (MSP) and the Transnational Institute (TNI) are launching the groundbreaking study Remunicipalisation: Putting Water Back in Public Hands on Thursday, March 15 in Marseille, France.

The book explores the growing ‘remunicipalisation’ trend in the water sector that largely stems from the adverse effects of poor private water services in cities around the globe. Unequal access for the poor, unkept investment promises, environmental hazards, and scandalous profit margins are prompting municipalities to act to guarantee this essential service. Case studies analyse the transition from private to public water provision in Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Hamilton and Paris as well as Malaysia’s national experiment.

“This long-awaited study highlights the successes and ongoing challenges of remunicipalisation, and shows that public water providers can outperform private companies,” says David McDonald, co-director of the MSP, a research project on alternatives to privatisation. “We hope it can help deconstruct a deeply entrenched neoliberal ideology that puts profits before people.”

In the South, privatised water services continue to be promoted as a solution to increased investment needs in water services by international financial institutions. But evidence from the case studies shows that privatisation has come at a high social cost and has not resolved operational and infrastructural problems, with companies reaping high profits while governments shoulder substantial risks without democratic checks.

Private provision has also failed citizens in the North. “The case of Paris shows how expensive, opaque and short-sighted private water management usually is,” says Martin Pigeon of Brussels-based CEO. “Two years into remunicipalisation, public managers have made major savings and they run the system more transparently with a long-term vision. This victory is all the more important as dozens of water concession contracts are up for renewal in 2012 in France alone, raising hopes for nation-wide change. At the EU level, lessons from this experience advocate strongly against the austerity drive to force Greece, Portugal and Italy to privatise their water.”

According to TNI expert Satoko Kishimoto, “water struggles provide a real opportunity for citizens not only to end privatisation but to help shape public water companies that are democratic and responsive to their needs. We hope this book can help draw lessons from these experiences to guide future action in favour of public services.”

Co-editors Martin Pigeon, David McDonald and Satoko Kishimoto will present research findings during an Alternative World Water Forum workshop convened by the MSP.

Launch Event – Thursday, March 15 from 15h30 to 18h
Docks des Suds, Cabaret Rouge 1, Marseille, France
Workshop information and full list of speakers available at

Book Download – Free access on MSP, TNI and CEO websites:,,

For more on cases of remunicipalisation around the world, visit

Interviews – Contact Madeleine Bélanger, MSP Communications Manager
                      +33 (0)6 99 89 17 75


Monday, March 12, 2012 - 07:00
Marseille, France