What is a Public-Common Partnership?

Public-Common Partnerships are a way for organized communities, working in partnership with relevant public bodies, to gain ownership and control over the assets and resources (buildings, enterprises, farms) which impact their lives.

Communities should be the ones making decisions about changes to the places they live, but communities can only do that when they are active, organized and resourced. The common ownership and governance of assets and resources provides the stable infrastructure around which organized and active communities can be built. and control over the assets and resources (buildings, enterprises, farms) which impact their lives.

A PCP always has the following features:

A joint enterprise (JE) such as a mixed-use market, a pharmaceutical company, an intertidal aquaculture farm, or land & property portfolio.
Shared ownership and governance of the JE by (at minimum) a public body, employees, and a common association (a participatory democratic membership body).
A set of rules governing the operation of the JE which define the social and ecological objectives of the JE, and ‘lock’ assets to these objectives.
The transfer of surplus from the JE to the common association who will decide on its investment in line with the objectives of the JE.
Diagram showing the structure of a joint enterprise

The novelty of PCPs lies in their power to set in motion self-expanding circuits of radical democratic governance. Surpluses accrued through the profitable running of a PCP can be used to seed new PCPs elsewhere in a virtuous circle of commoning and democratic ownership.

The PCP approach works with an expansive understanding of economic democracy, moving beyond traditions of worker representation or ownership to explore the potential for wider democratic control over assets.

To read about PCPs in more depth, check out our in-depth reports.