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Remunicipalization: The future of water services?


After three decades of privatization, the world is witnessing dramatic reversals in the water sector. Cities around the world are ‘remunicipalizing’ their water services by taking them back into public control, and the pace appears to be growing. But there are also forces which may slow this trend. Private water companies appear concerned about its impact on profits, austerity has forced some governments to abandon plans for re- municipalization, and legal barriers are multiplying. There are also diverse motivations for remunicipalization, putting into question its status as a coherent political trend. This paper develops a typology of different ideo- logical forms of remunicipalization, identifying key stakeholders and the nature of their support, as well as indicating prevalent formats and regional trends. My hypothesis is that remunicipalization will continue in the medium term due to widespread dissatisfaction with privatization, but that differences within the re- municipalization movement, combined with resistance from powerful multilateral actors, may make it difficult to sustain.


David A. McDonald
Publication Information: 
Geoforum 91 (2018) 47-56
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