Date of release: Thursday, April 9, 2015

The number of cities reversing the privatisation of water supply and sanitation services is accelerating dramatically across the world, according to new research published by the university and four organisations today.

Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires and Accra are among 235 administrations to take the step – known as remunicipalisation – in the last 15 years. The pace is increasing with the number doubling in the last five years compared with the previous ten.

The Jakarta District Court annulled the Indonesian capital's water privatisation contracts last month, citing the violation of the 9.9 million residents' human right to water in the world's largest remunicipalisation so far.

The launch of the book, Our public water future: the global experience with remunicipalisation, focuses attention on public ownership in advance of the World Water Forum in South Korea on Sunday 12 April and the UK general election next month.

Emanuele Lobina, of Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) at the University of Greenwich4, says: "The surge in water remunicipalisation is global. Cities are rejecting water privatisation after years of failed promises, poor services and high prices. There is evidence that taking water back into public ownership brings immediate cost savings, operational effectiveness, more transparency and greater investment in the future5.

"In the UK, water remunicipalisation is not being considered as a policy option – you have to ask why. Bringing water services in England back into public hands could save around £900m a year, helping to tackle rising water poverty."

PSIRU, part of the university's Business School, has played a world leading role in researching and providing policy advice on the subject since 2001.

Former Deputy Mayor of Paris Anne Le Strat, who was behind the flagship 2010 move to take Paris' water back under public control, says: "Remunicipalisation offers opportunities for developing socially desirable, environmentally sustainable and quality water services benefiting present and future generations. These are issues that receive little attention by private water operators concerned with profits and shareholders. Moreover, public water operators are now joining forces within and across countries to support and learn from each other so we can achieve the human right to water for all."

The other organisations involved are: Transnational Institute (TNI); Multinationals Observatory; Municipal Services Project (MSP) and European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU)

For more information, please contact Emanuele Lobina at PSIRU: GMT0; email: e.lobina@gre.ac.uk; telephone +44 (0)20 8331 8476, or Satoko Kishimoto, Transnational Institute: GMT+1; email: satoko@tni.org; telephone +32 474486268

Story by Public Relations