*This article was originally published in The New Diplomat
The Atlas, an initiative by Transformative Cities, is a unique collection of community-led transformations of water, energy, food and housing systems, featuring 33 stories from 24 countries including Nigeria.
The cases show how public solutions based on principles of cooperation and solidarity rather than competition and private profit have been more successful in meeting people’s basic needs – and perhaps just as importantly in creating a spirit of confidence and empowerment that strengthen communities for many other challenges.
The Lagos anti-water privatization campaign led by ERA/FoEN and a host of other groups on the platform of ‘ the Our Water, Our Right Coalition’, got special mention.
Since 2014 ERA/FoEN and labour groups have challenged plans by the Lagos government to introduce Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the water sector, warning that such a move would further impoverish the 21 million people in Lagos. The groups have made several wins and continue advocating solutions within the realm of democratic control of water.
Transformative Cities is a partnership of international civil society organisations and social movements. It explores how cities and collectives are ensuring access to basic rights, as traditional forms of democracy are failing, and states, multilateral institutions, and transnational corporations are unwilling or too slow to address the climate crisis. The Transformative Cities Initiative has been working for almost a year to gather these stories.
“The Atlas of Utopias helps us navigate through the myriad of struggles and transformative changes that are happening on a local level throughout the globe,” said Lorena Zarate, President of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC).
“Transformative Cities is a revealing project launched at the right time in history,” said Saskia Sassen, Professor of Sociology at the University of Columbia and creator of the concept “Global Cities”.
The Atlas of Utopias is the first stage of the Transformative Cities People’s choice award, which will present initiatives selected from the Atlas by an international team of experts and practitioners. The online vote will open this autumn.
The launch of the Atlas of Utopias coincides with the forum “Cities and SSE: Practical policies to transform the economy” hosted by the City of Lyon and the European network of the Social Solidarity Economy organisations.