Young people, big ideas: participatory budgeting fixes a river

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Solli, Rolf, Demediuk, Peter and Adolfsson, Petra (2011) Young people, big ideas: participatory budgeting fixes a river. The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 7 (1). pp. 193-206. ISSN 1832-2077


Citizen participation in local government budgeting is an important emerging public management reform movement in many countries including Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and now Sweden. ‘Participatory budgeting’ programs bring local communities into the decision- making process around formal resource allocation plans, and have the potential to give new levels of voice and choice about service and infrastructure expenditure to disconnected or disadvantaged and marginalised citizens and groups. This case study explores the form and function of the first tranche of participatory budgeting programs in a new major initiative that is sponsored by the central agency for local governments (kommuns) in Sweden. The kommun’s program set aside a substantial sum of money to be used in a new project around safety or the environment, and used groups of final year school students to design the participative processes, produce alternative proposals for a project, and vote on a final decision. The paper interrogates how the participatory budgeting program intersects with the themes of economic, cultural, social and environmental sustainability. The case study details the causes and dynamics behind the unanticipated choice made by the groups to compete rather than cooperate, and considers the way in which the final project decided upon was bolstered in funding, scope and execution by linking its main strands to other policy objectives. In the end, this engagement initiative was as much about strengthening democracy and a sense of community as it was about generating, capturing and implementing good ideas.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.18848/1832-2077/CGP/v07i01/54832
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Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Economics and Finance
Historical > FOR Classification > 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
Historical > SEO Classification > 9402 Government and Politics
Keywords ResPubID24200, participatory budgeting, young people, local government, sweden, community engagement, social sustainability, economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, cultural sustainability
Citations in Scopus 1 - View on Scopus
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