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Our Future is Public: Santiago Declaration for Public Services

Jan 26, 2023

From 29th November to 2nd December over a thousand representatives from over one hundred countries, from grassroots movements, advocacy, human rights, and development organisations, feminist movements, trade unions, and other civil society organisations, met in Santiago, Chile, and virtually, to discuss the critical role of public services for our future. 

We are at a critical juncture. At a time when the world faces a series of crises, from the environmental emergency to hunger and deepening inequalities, increasing armed conflicts, pandemics, rising extremism, and escalating inflation, a collective response is growing. A large movement is building and concrete solutions are emerging to counter the dominant paradigm of growth, privatisation and commodification. 

Hundreds of organisations across socio-economic justice and public services sectors, from education and health services, to care, energy, food, housing, water, transportation and social protection, are coming together to address the harmful effects of commercialising public services, to reclaim democratic public control, and to reimagine a truly equal and human rights oriented economy that works for people and the planet. We demand universal access to quality, gender-transformative and equitable public services as the foundation of a fair and just society.

The common political framing of coloniality helps us to recognise the structures and mindsets that have historically constructed and continue to drive economic inequality, injustice and austerity -  that have left public services chronically under-funded for decades. The neoliberal economy, magnified by the current pattern of hyper-globalisation, is defined by perpetuating extraction, control, dependence, subjugation, patriarchy and the current global division of labour, disproportionately impacting the Global South.  

The commercialisation and privatisation of public services and the commodification of all aspects of life have driven growing inequalities and entrenched power disparities, giving prominence to profit and corruption over people’s rights and ecological and social well-being. It adversely affects workers, service users, and communities, with the costs and damages falling disproportionately on those who have historically been exploited. 

The devaluation of public service workers’ social status, the worsening of their working conditions, and attacks against their unions are some of the most worrying regressions of our times and a threat to our collective spaces. This is deeply linked with the patriarchal organisation of society, where women as workers and carers are undervalued and absorb social and economic shocks. They are the first to suffer from public sector cuts, losing access to services and opportunities for decent work, and facing a rising burden of unpaid care work.

Austerity cuts in public sector budgets and wage bills are driven by an ideological mindset entrenched in the International Monetary Fund and many Ministries of Finance that serve the interests of corporations over people, perpetuating dependencies and unsustainable debts. Unfair tax rules, nationally and internationally, enable vast inequalities in the accumulation and concentration of income, wealth and power within and between countries. The financialisation of a wide range of public actions and decisions hands over power to shareholders and undermines democracy.

This gathering in Chile follows years of growing mobilisation around the world. It builds on the 2019 international conference in Amsterdam and the resulting book The Future is Public: Towards Democratic Ownership of Public Services, as well as a series of groundbreaking events that brought together thousands of people online, and the adoption in 2021 of the Global Manifesto for Public Services and the related Manifesto on Rebuilding  the Social Organisation of Care

Our Future is Public

We commit to continue building an intersectional movement for a Future that is Public. One where our rights are guaranteed, not based on our ability to pay, or on whether a system produces profit, but on whether it enables all of us to live well together in peace and equality: our buen vivir

A Future that is Public is one where neither women, nor Indigenous Peoples, nor persons with disabilities, nor the working class or migrants, nor racialised, ethnic or sexual minorities, bear an unfair and unequal burden in our societies. It is a future where the continued legacy of colonialism is broken through meaningful reparations, debt cancellation and a complete overhaul of our global economic system, including through reducing material and energy use by wealthy economies. 

Who owns our resources and our services is fundamental. A public future means ensuring that everything essential to dignified lives is out of private control, and under decolonial forms of collective, transparent and democratic control. In some contexts this means decisive local, regional and/or national interventions by the state. In other contexts this means strengthening people’s organisations, including trade unions, and expanding spaces of self-government, commons, collective and community control of resources. We value public-public or public-common partnerships, but we resist the public-private partnerships that only serve to extract resources from the public for private interests.

A Future that is Public also means creating the conditions for enabling alternative production systems, including the prioritisation of agroecology as an essential component of food sovereignty. To that end we need to take back control of decision making processes and institutions from the current forms of corporate capture to be able to decide for what, for whom and how we provide, manage and collectively own resources and public services.

The public future will not be possible without taking bold collective national action for ambitious, gender-transformative and progressive fiscal and economic reforms, to massively expand financing of universal public services. These reforms must be complemented by major shifts in the international public finance architecture, including transformations in tax, debt and trade governance. We need to seize the momentum generated by the recent successes of African and other Global South countries towards creating a UN intergovernmental framework on tax and the 4th Financing for Development Conference. 

Democratising economic governance towards truly multilateral processes is critical to overhaul the power of dominant neoliberal organisations and reorient national and international financial institutions away from the racial, patriarchal and colonial patterns of capitalism and towards socio-economic justice, ecological sustainability, human rights, and public services. It is equally essential to enforce the climate and ecological debt of the Global North, to carry-out an expedited reduction of energy and material resource use by wealthy economies, to hold big polluters liable for their generations-long infractions, to accelerate the phasing-out of fossil fuels, and to prioritise finance system change.

A Future that is Public recognises the urgent need for international solidarity and globally systemic but contextually differentiated, solutions. It is an essential element of a just, feminist and decolonial transition, that places public service users and workers at the centre, and will enable us to rebuild a sustainable social pact for the 21st century. 

Our Future is Public

Join our call for universal access to quality, gender-transformative and equitable public services as the foundation of a fair and just society.

Endorse the Declaration

We will take action

We will join forces across sectors, regions and movements to formulate and carry out common strategies and new alliances towards joint proposals for a just, feminist and decolonial transition in the face of the climate and environmental crises. We will work to  transform our systems, valuing human rights and ecological sustainability over GDP growth and narrowly defined economic gains.

Working in solidarity with grassroots groups everywhere, including Indigenous Peoples, youth, older persons, and persons with disabilities, we will: 

  • Work transversally and in solidarity between sectors and movements, building our collective analysis and supporting each other’s work and demands, rallying forces behind iconic collective struggles.

  • Invite each other in sector meetings, share good practices and develop collective programmes and demands.

  • Report back within our organisations, networks and sectors, and continue strengthening and expanding engagement of our respective sectors as pillars of the broader movement.

  • Work together to strengthen human rights institutional and legal frameworks for the protection of public services.

  • Mobilise for a process of organisational, intersectional self-reflection, transformation and action.

  • Work towards establishing a collective virtual space on Our Future is Public to share experiences and political tactics.

  • Continue articulating demands for policy-makers across public services, policies, and investments that could take the form of a public services pledge for municipalities and national governments.

  • Engage with aligned local and national and international authorities to support alternative, fairer models of governance.

  • Consult about the form, scope, and focus that an Independent Commission on Public Services could take and work together to build it.

  • Organise regular convening spaces to strengthen groups and movements working on our public futures and explore another global conference within the next three years.

DC3E09EC-4C80-4310-A0DD-DE9EF839329BCreated with sketchtool.

Initial list of signatories:

  1. 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World

  2. A 11 - Initiative for Economic and Social Rights

  3. Abraham's Children Foundation

  4. Academic and Career Development Initiative Cameroon (ACADI)

  5. Academic Ease Stakeholders' Solidarity

  6. ActionAid

  7. ActionAid USA

  8. Activista defensora derechos humanos mujer rural

  9. Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA)

  10. Alames Chile

  11. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Mankind

  12. Alianza por la Igualdad de América Latina y el Caribe

  13. Alliance of Women Advocating for Change

  14. Alternative Information & Development Centre

  15. APIT - Associação Sindical dos Profissionais da Inspeção Tributária e Aduaneira de Portugal

  16. APSEE - Asociación del personal superior de empresa de energía

  17. Armshield Int'l Peace Champions (AIPeC - Kenya)

  18. Art and Global Health Center Africa

  19. Asamblea Territorial Agua Santa-Ferroviaria

  20. Ashuganj power station co ltd sramik karmachary union

  21. Asociación Centro Nacional de Salud, Ambiente y Trabajo Agua Viva -CENSAT Agua Viva-

  22. Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia

  23. Asociación Personal de Organismos de Control  - APOC

  24. Assistance Plus Togo

  25. Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD

  26. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development

  27. Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust

  28. BARAC UK

  29. Blood Patients Protection Council, Kerala

  30. Blue Planet Project

  31. Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education

  32. Cabildo Plaza Recreo

  33. CADTM Belgique / Comité pour l'abolition des dettes illégitimes Belgique

  34. CADTM International Network / Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt International Network

  35. Campaña latinoamericana por el derecho a la educación-CLADE

  36. Cenca - Alianza Internacional de Habitantes (AIH)

  37. Centar za mirovne studije (Centre for Peace Studies)

  38. Center for Economic and Social Rights

  39. Center for Economic Social and Cultural Rights in Africa ( CESCRA)

  40. Central Única dos Trabalhadores - CUT Brasil

  41. Centre for Education Rights and Transformation,  University of Johannesburg and the South African Chair in Community, Adult and Workers'Education.

  42. Centre for Financial Accountability

  43. Centro de Análisis Socioambiental - CASA

  44. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

  45. Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios - Universidad Mayor de San Simón (CESU-UMSS)

  46. Civil Society Network for Education Reforms

  47. Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net Philippines) Inc.

  48. Climate Watch Thailand

  49. CNCD-11.11.11

  50. Coalition Pour Éducation Pour Tous BAFASHEBIGE

  51. Colectivo Nacional por la Discapacidad (Chile)

  52. CONAM



  55. Confederação Nacional das Associações de Moradores pra tratar do Congresso

  56. Confederacion de Estudiantes de Chile

  57. Confederación de los Trabajadores de las Universidades de America CONTUA/ISP

  58. Confederación Fenpruss

  59. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

  60. Construisons ensemble le monde

  61. Cooperativa de Economia Solidária de Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis do Território Norte de Teresina



  64. Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de sábila

  65. Corporate Accountability

  66. Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA)

  67. COSYDEP - Sénégal

  68. CSQ - Centrale des syndicats du Québec

  69. Dauphins Munzihirwa-Kataliko

  70. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)

  71. Debt Observatory in Globalization / Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ODG)

  72. Droit à l'energie - SOS FUTUR

  73. East Africa Center for Human Rights

  74. Education For All Coalition-Sierra Leone

  75. Education International

  76. Enginyeria Sense Fronteres

  77. Etoile du sud

  78. Eurodad

  79. European federation of public service unions – EPSU

  80. European Water Movement

  81. EYATh  Trade Union

  82. Federación Nacional de Trabajadores del Agua Potable y Alcantarillado del Perú - FENTAP

  83. Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec-FIQ

  84. Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV)

  85. FEDEVI - Argentina

  86. FIAN International

  87. FIAN Sri Lanka

  88. FNU - Federação Nacional dos Urbanitários - Brasil

  89. Focus on the Global South

  90. Forum for Education NGos in Uganda (FENU)

  91. Freedom from debt coalition

  92. Frente Nacional por la Salud de los Pueblos del Ecuador (FNSPE)

  93. Fundación SES

  94. Fundavivienda

  95. GenderCC Southern Africa

  96. Gestos (soropositividade, comunicaçao, gênero

  97. Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ)

  98. Global Campaign for Education

  99. Global Campaign for Education-US

  100. Global Justice Now

  101. Global Policy Forum Europe

  102. Global Public Investment Network

  103. Global Social Justice

  104. Good Health Community Programmes

  105. Greater Purpose Development Organization Sierra Leone

  106. Groupe de travail pour la démocratie énergétique - Tunisie

  107. Health Poverty Action

  108. Housing and Land Rights Network - Habitat International Coalition (HIC-HLRN)

  109. Human Rights Research Documentation Centre (HURIC)

  110. IBFAN

  111. IBON International

  112. Iniciativa por los Principios de Derechos Humanos en la Política Fiscal

  113. Initiative for Social and Economic Rights

  114. Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos - Inesc

  115. International Alliance of Inhabitants

  116. International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)

  117. International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)

  118. Jubilee Scotland

  119. Junta Cívica Paraje El Pinar (Fuente Clara)

  120. Kabataan Kontra Kahirapan / Youth Against Poverty

  121. Kamgar Sanrakshan Sammaan Sangh

  122. La Langue Ecarlate

  123. Madhira Institute

  124. Medicus Mundi Mediterrània

  125. Miroir Vagabond (Belgique)

  126. MNI / Movimiento Nacional por la Infancia  Chile


  128. Montfort Social Institute (MSI)

  129. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH)

  130. Movimiento de Pobladores Organizados

  131. Mujeres de Zona de Sacrificio en Resistencia Puchuncavi-Quintero.

  132. Mujeres Modatima

  133. National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal

  134. National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)

  135. Nawi Collective

  136. Next Planning

  137. NGO: ADET

  138. NPSWU

  139. Observatório Nacional dos Direitos à Água e ao Saneamento

  140. Ocupas: cidade, resistência e subjetividade - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

  141. OMEP  World Organization for Early Childhood Education

  142. ONG EVEIL

  143. ONG Sustentarse (Chile)

  144. Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation/Fédération des enseignantes-enseignants des écoles secondaires de l'Ontario

  145. Open Society Africa

  146. Organisation pour la démocratie le développement économique et socialL (ODDES)

  147. Oxfam International

  148. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

  149. Partners In Health

  150. People First

  151. People´s Health Movement (PHM)

  152. Peoples Health Movement Ghana

  153. Physically Challenged Empowerment Initia

  154. Plataforma Aigua és Vida

  155. Plataforma de Acuerdos Público Comunitarios

  156. Platform: London

  157. PM16147

  158. Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Students' Party for Equality and Advancement of Knowledge (PUP SPEAK)

  159. Public Services International (PSI)

  160. Public Services Labor Independent Confederation

  161. Recourse

  162. Red de Justicia Fiscal de America Latina y el Caribe

  163. Red Vigilancia Interamericana para la Defensa y Derecho al Agua, REDVIDA

  164. Regroupement Education Pour Toutes et Tous (REPT)

  165. Remix the commons

  166. Réseau Ivoiruen pour la Promotion de l'Education Pour Tous (RIP-EPT)

  167. Right to Education Initiative

  168. Rural Area Development Programme (RADP)

  169. SATHI-Support for Advocacy and Training in Health Initiatives

  170. Share The World's Resources (STWR)

  171. SINAFETEP, Sindicato Nacional Ferroviario del Tren Eléctrico del Perú

  172. Sindicato de trabajadores hospital universitario San Ignacio - SINTRASANIGNACIO

  173. Snapap cgata

  174. Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)

  175. Society for International Development (SID)

  176. Solidarité Laïque

  177. SPGQ

  178. State and Other Employees Federation

  179. Stichting Mission Lanka

  180. Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ)

  181. Syndicat National Des Travailleurs de la Sante

  182. Synergie des femmes dynamiques pour le développement intégré

  183. Tax Justice Network

  184. TaxEd Alliance

  185. TEACH Cote d'Ivoire

  186. Teachers & employees association for change & solidarity, Inc. (E-Net Philippines)

  187. The African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)

  188. The Alternatives Project (TAP)

  189. The Bretton Woods Project

  190. The East African Centre for Human Rights

  191. The Global Initiative for Economic Social and Cultural Rights - GI-ESCR

  192. Transnational Institute

  193. Uganda Peace Foundation

  194. Union des Amis Socio Culturels d'Action en Developpement (UNASCAD)

  195. Unión popular Valle Gómez

  196. Unione Inquilini

  197. Vissually Impaired Workers Platform (VIWP)

  198. Viva Salud

  199. VIVAT International

  200. Water Employees Trade union of Malawi

  201. Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll)

  202. Wemos

  203. WILPF Sudan

  204. Women against poverty association

  205. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

  206. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

  207. Working People's Coalition/International Alliance of Inhabitants

  208. World Economy, Ecology and Development - WEED e.V.

  209. Young Men Action for Education

  210. Youth concern on environment and development (YCED)

  211. Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union (ZUCWU)

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