Conference in Chile brings together social movements worldwide to strategize about an agenda for change

This week – from the 29th of November till the 2th of December – social movements and civil society organisations from all over the world working on strengthening public services, combatting the ecological crisis and protecting economic, social and cultural rights are gathering for four days during the Our Future is Public conference (#OFIP2022) in Santiago, Chile. Our co-director Sophie Bloemen is there to participate on behalf of Commons Network. 

The conference provides the much-needed space for participants to exchange knowledge, strengthen alliances and build strategies to collectively shape a genuinely just and sustainable future: an agenda for change. Organizers and participants are united in the belief that a world in which both human rights and the environment are protected can only be achieved through the democratization of crucial public services, bringing power back to the people. 

The first two days of the Conference are devoted to sectoral discussions around a wide variety of topics ranging from health and social protection to economic justice and food systems. The latter two days will then provide room for collective discussions on cross-cutting themes including the climate emergency, gender equality, economic justice, and public democratic ownership.

The Our Future is Public conference fits well within the changing political dynamics in the region: Left-wing forces are regaining ground in Latin America, known as the ‘second pink tide’, after mass movements of people in several countries including Brazil, Colombia and Chile itself have been rising up to reclaim their democracies and constitutions. 

Supporters of the 35-year-old left-wing president Gabriel Boric celebrate after the results of the runoff presidential election in Santiago in December 2021. Picture credits: REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

On Friday the 1st of December – the third day of the conference -, Sophie will be speaking in a Democratic Public Ownership workshop, together with Vera Weghmann from PSIRU and Katia Valenzuele from the University of Concepcion. 

In this worksop, Sophie will talk about the ways a politics of care work and municipalist processes can inform and advance the democratization of local public service provision. Together with the other speakers and participants, she will explore how we can build a collective vision and reality of a democratic, accountable State belonging to the people instead of to authoritarian rulers, vested and corporate interests. What is the role of public services in this form of the State in the making? Which governance systems, public policies, ownership models, participatory mechanisms, and public-community collaborations concretely work to effectively return public services into public ownership and control? The workshop is hosted by Democracy Collective and Transnational Institute and will be moderated by Daria Cibrario from Public Services International.

The conference is organized by over 40 civil society organizations, including several of our partners. 

Find out more about the conference here

Find out more about our work on municipalism here