Participatory Budgets

Posted here (week 2452).

The districts of Amsterdam hold annual votes to fund small improvement projects. It’s clear they are experimenting with the model: in West every resident 10 years or older can propose an allocation of funds. Here in Centrum it’s a simple voting exercise.

Half the district’s € 500k discretionary budget is allocated this way. Anyone can propose a project up to € 50k. The government moderates them only lightly and mostly validates the cost estimates. For 2021, all but one of the winning projects are about bringing more greenery. Last year, in West, I saw more community-building endeavors among the winners.

I’m quite fond of this, and have learned it is called participatory budgeting. Paris is more serious than us with 5% of their total expenditures allocated similarly. We’re only applying 0.05% of our budget in this manner, and I certainly hope the experiment leads to more.