Vantaa to invest €1.2 million in participatory budgeting in 2023–2024
Mayor Ritva Viljanen disclosed at Meidän Vantaa (“Our Vantaa”) participatory budgeting seminar that Vantaa will invest €1.2 million in participatory budgeting during this and the following year. Vantaa will compile principles for implementing participatory budgeting in the course of the spring.
Vantaa residents get to decide in 2023-2024 how to spend €1.2 million. Vantaa is the third biggest Finnish city—right after Helsinki and Turku—to give appropriation for the residents to budget as they like. Participatory budgeting will expand to cover all the city's major regions.
“We know that when you give people a chance to influence, they grab it eagerly,” enthuses mayor Ritva Viljanen.
The Meidän Vantaa seminar brought together at the City Hall a big group of experts to discuss how participatory budgeting should be implemented in Vantaa and elsewhere. The seminar kick-starts Vantaa development team’s work whose results will be the basis for the principles of Vantaa participatory budgeting.
The seminar, in particular, discussed the goals of participatory budgeting in Vantaa. The addresses repeated the concept that participatory budgeting should be strongly based on the characteristics of Vantaa. Ideas of how to reach the residents were proposed.
Vantaa has conducted participatory budgeting in 2020-2023 as part of the Regional Program of Positive Action Program. Each district included in the program has implemented €50.000 budgeting. The residents have actively participated in Vantaa's participatory budgeting. At best, we have reached more than 4% of the region’s residents, which is a fairly high figure.
Addresses by experts support planning; from international examples to practical tips
Addresses by experts not only highlighted the potentials of participatory budgeting but also how participatory budgeting has been conducted in myriad different ways in different places, which also leaves room for novel kinds of participatory budgeting processes.
“Participatory budgeting basically means that ordinary people decide on how to spend public resources. In participatory budgeting, the residents can also genuinely decide on topics of conversation, and not only react to subjects introduced by others,” explains Pauli Saloranta, an expert at Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund.
In addition, the seminar focused on developing the process of participatory budgeting. Vantaa is only starting its development, while Helsinki has been conducting assessment and development for several years, in between budgeting rounds.
“Participatory budgeting requires good network management. The most important task of participatory budgeting is to reform the structures of democracy,” reminds Kirsi Verkka, development manager of the City of Helsinki’s participatory budgeting.
University researcher Pauliina Lehtonen at Tampere University focuses on the changing roles of municipalities and residents in her presentation.
“The residents’ experiential knowledge adds a new element into traditional data banks. Participatory budgeting removes the municipalities’ position of authority with respect to the residents and, thus, enables new kind of developing together.