Participatory budgeting in Vantaa
What is participatory budgeting?
Participatory budgeting is a way for residents to decide how a specific amount of the city’s money is used. It’s a democratic method of operating where the financial power of decision is distributed to the area’s people. The important thing in participatory budgeting is that the residents get a genuine experience of participation, their opinions are heard and their impact leads to results.
Participatory budgeting was created at the end of 1980s in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Its development started from the need to improve living conditions in the poor neighbourhoods and decrease inequality. From Porto Alegre, the use of participatory budgeting has expanded to various parts of the world and is an even more comprehensive part of the participation of all people. In Finland, participatory budgeting became more common at the end of 2010s and, in the past years, it has been implemented in most larger cities as well as some smaller municipalities.
The core of participatory budgeting is in distributing the power of decision to residents, the unpredictability of results and the flexibility of the method. As a method of influence, participatory budgeting is different from, for example, traditional resident events and polling, as the public gets to participate in deciding how mutual tax funds are used. At the same time, residents learn about the realities of the economy.
Participatory budgeting also pays attention to the fact that residents can participate in every phase, from planning to decision-making. Participatory budgeting often involves an idea, development and voting phase. It has been noticed that the method increases mutual understanding, interaction and trust between residents and the municipal administration.
You can also read more about participatory budgeting on the Association of Finnish Municipalities’ website: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/osallistuva-budjetointi (in Finnish).
Participatory budgeting projects in Vantaa
In Vantaa, participatory budgeting has previously been used in the Our Korso – Everyone’s Korso project in 2018–2019 and in the projects Our Martsari and Our Hakunila in 2020. The Our Havukoski, Our Länsimäki and Our Mikkola projects will be launched in 2021.
The projects in Hakunila, Martsari, Havukoski, Länsimäki and Mikkola are part of the City of Vantaa’s positive special treatment programme. This was also the basis for selecting the neighbourhoods.
The goal of the projects is to develop an attractive and safe environment together with the residents. We also want to offer residents a new way to participate and influence in their own neighbourhood. Throughout the entire project, we will pay attention to how we could reach various resident groups in a versatile manner and inspire them to participate.
During the planning and preparation phase of the project, we have been in contact with local operators and we collaborate with them when, for example, gathering ideas. Associations, libraries, schools, day care centres and youth centres are some of the participating parties.