Participatory budgeting emerged in Porto Alegre, Brazil – as a result of severe inequality in living standards amongst city residents. The process occurs annually, starting with a series of neighbourhood, regional and citywide assemblies – where residents and elected budget delegates identify spending priorities and vote on which priorities to implement. Around fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre now take part in the participatory budgeting process, with the number of participants growing year on year since 1989. Participants are from diverse economic and political backgrounds.
Participatory budgeting has spread to hundreds of Latin American cities and dozens of cities in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. More than 1200 municipalities are estimated to have initiated participatory budgeting.
How might we empower and enable citizens – thus motivating them to play an active role in their communities? What other participatory methods might engage folks to get more involved in community initiatives?