Through interregional cooperation among eight partners, the CECI – Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation project collects and shares such good practices to inspire other regions in their implementation. Three of CECI projects recognized good practices received attention and interest in the Good Practice; participatory budgeting process in CECI lead partner LAB University of Applied Sciences region in Lahti, Finland.
Author: Anna Svartström
Picture 1. CECI sharing economy picture (Rouhiainen 2020).
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic decision-making process where ordinary people decide how to spend public funds (EmPaci 2020a). Citizen participation as PB and municipal decision making was first implemented in the 1980s in Porto Alegre/Brazil to increase transparency about the budget allocations and cope with social inequalities and corruption. Since then, the concept has been spread all around the globe. However, there is no universal method of PB.
Lahti has decided to spend 100,000 euros of municipal funding on PB in the year 2020 and implement the projects within 2021. The goal is to change how the city operates and direct funds into a more participatory direction by involving the residents in decision-making. Lahti has implemented its innovative PB system to activate citizens in decision-making and encourage initiative from the citizen that will implement local governmental change to benefit the citizens directly and increase sustainable development. Thus, citizens are directly involved in local government’s decision-making. Furthermore, they are encouraged to become project supervisors which encourages citizen involvement. Project supervisors help with developing PB, they support the implementation and coordination of PB. (Interreg Europe 2020a.)
There are three stages in the PB process: ideation, development, and public vote. Ten projects were chosen and will receive the funding. The city names 4 project leaders who support and are part of processing, evaluating, implementing ideas and participate in joint development. And 12 project supervisors who distribute information and activate residents in their areas.
PB activate citizens to the 713 ideas from where a total of 58 project proposals were put to the vote. A total of 3,896 residents voted for the PB proposals. Of the votes, 97% were cast online and paper forms accounted for 3%. Those aged 30-40 voted most enthusiastically, the turnout for PB reached nearly 400 under 18 and about 130 people over 70. Around 60% of the voters were women. Ideas for the PB were collected between 20.4-15.5.2020, on www.lahti.fi. Resulting in 58 proposals, published on the Lahti website. The vote was open on the website from 28.8-9.9.2020. Voting was also possible with a paper form in libraries. (Lahti European Green Capital 2021.)
Among the selected projects for PB are implementing in 2021 a Frisbee golf course, which received 25,000 euro with 624 votes. Revitalizing the market square received 6,000 euro in funding with 852 votes. Planting more flowers in the city center of Lahti received 5,000 euro funding and 602 votes. Selected CECI good practice: “Supervised bicycle park experiment encourages sharing economy in the city of Lahti” received funding.
The continuation of the guarded bicycle park in Lahti Market Square received 3,000 euros in funding and 751 votes. The practice runs mainly on a voluntary basis by Inspis. The flourishing third sector organisation Inspis cares for social and environmental causes in Lahti. Inspis was founded in 2009, the organisation supports social sustainability by supporting youngsters facing difficulties and at risk of unemployment. Furthermore, the supervised bicycle park offers circular economy services as it introduces citizens to the sharing economy by offering bicycle maintenance and access to a wide range of tools. (Interreg Europe 2020b.)
Furthermore, development of an inspiring CECI good practice: “Common urban space for events and other activities”, Sopenkorven Kesanto (Fallow) received 686 votes and 10,000 euros in funding from PB. The public space and event arena for Lahti residents will use the funds to improve, for instance, lighting, improve and increase seating for performances, add bicycle parking and toilets.
The Kesanto (Fallow) of the Sopenkorpi area in Lahti is an outdoor cultural centre and event space, community art and other outdoor activities. Founded in 2017 by Eetu Floor and Max Hagelberg. Sopenkorpi is an old industrial area in Lahti. The basic idea of the cultural event centre is a collaborative space where anyone can organize an event free of charge. The area accommodates up to a couple of thousand people. (Interreg Europe 2020c.)
In Lahti, LAB University of Applies Sciences is involved in the implementation and ideation of PB with the help of the Empaci project which includes LAB as a project partner. The EmPaci-project is a joint venture in the Baltic Sea Region to promote participatory budgeting in municipalities. LAB works on PB with 16 other partners from the Baltic Sea Region. Empaci and CECI projects are both funded by the EU Interreg Europe fund (EmPaci 2020b).
In CECI, eight partners in six European regions (Finland, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Bulgaria, and Belgium) declare and showcase existing good practices. Interreg Europe 2020d As mentioned above these good examples include surveillance for bicycles, shared bicycle, collective cultural and event centres for instance. The collected examples are easy to be adopted and implemented in other partner regions. The CECI project cooperates with the regional decision-makers and local stakeholders to develop better policies supporting the transition to these circular economy practices. Furthermore, most importantly CECI promotes and encourages citizen involvement in a circular economy among citizens. (Interreg Europe 2020e.)
EmPaci. 2020a. Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: http://cities.empaci.eu/
EmPaci. 2020b. Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.lab.fi/en/project/empowering-participatory-budgeting-baltic-sea-region-empaci
Interreg Europe. 2020a. Good practice: Citizen Participation and Municipal Decision Making in Lahti. Policy Learning Platform. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/policylearning/good-practices/item/5121/citizen-participation-and-municipal-decision-making-in-lahti/
Interreg Europe. 2020b. Good practice: Supervised Bicycle Park Experiment Encourages Sharing Economy in the City of Lahti. Policy Learning Platform. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/policylearning/good-practices/item/4528/supervised-bicycle-park-experiment-encourages-sharing-economy-in-the-city-of-lahti/
Interreg Europe. 2020c. Good practice: Common Urban Space for Events and Other Activities. Policy Learning Platform. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/policylearning/good-practices/item/3956/common-urban-space-for-events-and-other-activities/
Interreg Europe 2020d. Project good practices. CECI. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/good-practices/
Interreg Europe. 2020e. Project Summary. CECI. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/
Lahti European Green Capital. 2021. Vote is up – these Participatory Budgeting ideas will be implemented. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.lahti.fi/en/news/vote-is-up-these-participatory-budgeting-ideas-will-be-implemented/
Rouhiainen, O. 2020. CECI sharing economy picture. [Cited 26 Apr 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/news/news-article/11484/the-south-is-moving-the-lines-for-another-economy/
Anna Svartström works at LAB University of Applied Sciences as a project developer in the CECI project (Citizen Involvement in Circular Economic Implementation) funded by Interreg Europe.
Illustration: Anna Svartström
Reference to this article
Svartström, A. 2021. CECI projects recognized good practices were involved in the participatory budgeting in Lahti. LAB Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: https://www.labopen.fi/lab-pro/ceci-projects-recognized-good-practices-were-involved-in-the-participatory-budgeting-in-lahti/