1st Edition

Public Banks, Public Water Exploring the Links in Europe

Edited By Thomas Marois, David A. McDonald Copyright 2023

    This book explores the potential for public banks to help finance the expansion, democratization, and sustainability of public water services in Europe, with implications for public water financing elsewhere in the world.

    Financing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 for water and sanitation will be enormously expensive and will also depend largely on public water operators. Where will this money to fund public water services come from? One option is public banks. These state-owned institutions constitute just under 20% of global banking assets, holding close to $50 trillion in assets. Many public banks have explicit mandates to finance public water management and related public goods, and they have been doing so for decades. And yet, despite a resurgence of interest in public banks, their roles and potential in funding public water services have been largely ignored by researchers and policy makers.

    This book aims to measure the scale and nature of interactions between public banks and public water operators in the European region; identify challenges and opportunities for deeper engagement between public banks and public water operators; recognize promising practices and how these might be transferred elsewhere in the world; and assess possibilities for more democratic forms of public bank and public water interactions. This volume will be of great use to students and researchers interested in political ecology and economy, development and cooperation, public policy as well as water governance and management.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Water International.

    1. Public banks, public water: exploring the links in Europe

    Thomas Marois and David A. McDonald

    2. Untapping the sustainable water bank’s public financing for Dutch drinking water companies

    Klaas Schwartz and Thomas Marois

    3. Squeezed by austerity and pressured to recover costs: Portugal’s municipal water operators in need of public bank finance

    Victoria Stadheim

    4. Public water without (public) financial mediation? Remunicipalizing water in Valladolid, Spain

    Jorge Garcia-Arias, Hug March, Nuria Alonso and Mar Satorras

    5. Public banks and the remunicipalization of water services in Paris

    Olivier Butzbach and Susan Spronk

    6. ‘No one can compete since no one dares to lend more cheaply!’: Turkey’s Ilbank and public water finance

    Ali Rıza Güngen

    7. Boldly boring: public banks and public water in the Nordic region

    Petri S. Juuti, Riikka P. Juuti and David A. McDonald

    8. Between development and banking: the KfW Development Bank in Latin America’s water sector

    Nadine Reis

    9. The European Investment Bank and its role in financing public water

    Judith Clifton, Daniel Díaz-Fuentes and Helen Kavvadia

    Conclusion: Copper bullets and the future of public banks and public water in Europe

    David A McDonald and Thomas Marois


    Thomas Marois is Reader in Development Studies at the SOAS University of London, UK, who specializes in political economy. Thomas is a world-leading researcher on public banks and the financing of green and just transitions in ways that bridge north/south divides.

    David A. McDonald is Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, and Director of the Municipal Services Project. His research revolves around debates over public versus private service delivery but encompass a broad spectrum of related questions on urbanization, environmental justice, and uneven development.