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).
In Vantaa, participatory budgeting has previously been used in the Our Korso – Everyone’s Korso project in 2018–2019. The Our Martsila and Our Hakunila projects will be launched in 2020.