Planning, setting up and running a participatory budgeting (PB) process requires a lot of effort and resources – be it money, time, or knowledge (Sinervo in Tolpo 2021). Academic partners of the EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region project, LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University, have studied and supported Finnish PB processes. They have noticed firsthand the strain the process puts on the often-thin resources of municipalities. To support municipalities and other PB stakeholders the project has come up with a range of tips and tools for sharing knowledge and real-life experiences on PB. (EmPaci 2021.)
The concept behind the Train the Trainer model, where knowledge on PB is shared from different viewpoints and sources, is described in more detail in our previous blog post Train the Trainer – Participation Requires Training (Heinonen 2020).
PB – what, why and how?
The Finnish partners have documented some of the key components of PB implementation into three videos, highlighting the theme, tools, and practical knowledge of Finnish PB. Typically, information and materials about Finnish PB is provided only in Finnish, as resources limit the provision of language versions. Train the Trainer videos are available in both Finnish and English. This not only helps support the non-Finnish speakers locally, but also benefit the wider PB community globally.
The Participatory Budgeting Challenges Administration video focuses on municipalities. In this video researchers from Tampere University provide a basis for understanding PB, discuss the challenges running a PB from perspective of municipal organization, and offer some recent examples of Finnish PB.
In the Participatory Budgeting is Done Together video the spotlight is on the first Finnish EmPaci PB Pilot – OmaLahti PB – run in the City of Lahti in 2020. PB Coordinators, who planned, set up, and ran the pilot for the city, share their experiences on the whole process. You also get a chance to find out more about a Lahti specialty – PB Coaches (city employees) and Project Guardians (ordinary citizens) – who supported the process. You will also find out what were their roles and what did it take from a city employee and an ordinary citizen to take part in the PB in such an active way.
The third video Facilitating Group Discussions and Workshops provides tips for city employees for meeting ordinary citizens in their everyday lives, and to spark their interest to take part in joint matters like PB. Motivating citizens is essential but it can sometimes feel difficult. Video illustrates how developing facilitation skills help during these encounters and help ensure the quality of the entire process. The topic of the video was selected based on feedback received from the Finnish pilot municipalities Lahti and Riihimäki, where a second PB was run in 2020.
The Finnish versions of the videos can be found on the Finnish project home page.
Annukka Heinonen, Master of Business Administration, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences, and as a project manager in the EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project. There are altogether 17 partners working on improving PB at Empaci. LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University are supported by Association of Finnish Municipalities.
EmPaci. 2021. Project webpage. [Cited 14.4.2021]. Available at: www.empaci.eu
Heinonen, A. 2020. Train the Trainer – participation Requires Training. LAB Innovations. [Cited 20.4.2021]. Available at: https://blogit.lab.fi/innovations/en/2020/04/08/train-the-trainer-participation-requires-training/
Tolpo, A. 2021. Tutkijat kouluttavat kuntapäättäjiä asukkaiden kuuntelemisessa: “Kunnat ovat yllättyneet, miten työläs ja aikaa vaativa prosessi on”. YLE. [Cited 15.4.2021]. Available at: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11855737
LAB. 2021. Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region (Empaci). [Cited 15.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.lab.fi/fi/projekti/empowering-participatory-budgeting-baltic-sea-region-empaci
Heinonen, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Lehtonen, P. & Tsokkinen, S. 2021a. Participatory Budgeting Challenges Administration. Video. Uploader PBbase Network. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBtEfyDqw9E
Heinonen, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Tsokkinen, S., Mäkinen, T., Virta, S., Määttä, I. & Kopra, H. 2021b. Participatory Budgeting is Done Together. Video. Uploader PBbase Network. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: c
Karreinen, L., Salovaara, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Heinonen, A. & Tsokkinen, S. Facilitating Group Discussions and Workshops. Video. Uploader PBbase Network. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToWQI5ZTMw0
Altmann, G. 2016. Tiimi, palaute, vahvistaminen. Pixabay. [Cited 14.4.2021]. Available at: https://pixabay.com/fi/illustrations/ryhm%C3%A4-tiimi-palaute-vahvistaminen-1825503/