The demand for infrastructure and utility services is an acute challenge for countries in middle- and low-income countries undergoing high levels of urbanization, demographic shifts, and civil and political reorganization. The demand for utilities occurs alongside a trend toward increased financialization of the local state. A challenge for meeting demand for utility services is the shift toward increased financialization where the delivery of public purpose is challenged. This chapter aims to highlight governing arrangements that aid in understanding how public purpose can be delivered through utilities using the case study of Medellin, Colombia. Through examples of public infrastructure projects and the delivery of water by its utility-company, Empresas Publicas de Medellin, the paper discusses how this company achieved alignment of essential services with public purpose through adaptive governance structures that mitigate adverse effects of financialization and promote the integration of economic, environmental, and social goals. While this case does not propose a transferable model of governance, it highlights arrangements that enable a more mixed, adaptive, and nuanced understanding of how adverse effects associated with total financialization might be abated.
Part of the book: Sustainability in Urban Planning and Design