History of PB

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Citizen participation in budget making is not a new idea. For over 300 years, citizens in New England and elsewhere have decided on budget spending through town meetings. Many cities have involved residents in budgeting through community boards, councils, and public consultations.
In 1989, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre developed a different model of budget participation, which has become known internationally as “participatory budgeting”. Driven by social movements and Workers Party politicians, the municipality invited residents to not only give input on budget spending, but to directly decide how funds were to be allocated. Since then, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre has developed into an annual process of deliberation and decision-making, in which as many as 50,000 city residents per year decide how to spend as much as 20% of the municipal budget. In a series of neighborhood, regional, and citywide assemblies, residents and elected budget delegates identify spending priorities and vote on which priorities to implement.
After its emergence in Porto Alegre, participatory budgeting soon spread to hundreds of cities in Brazil, and then elsewhere in Latin America. In the past decade, many cities and towns in Europe, Africa, and Asia have also launched participatory budgets. In North America, several Canadian local governments have developed PB processes, and new initiatives are underway in the United States.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and Dominican Republic have recently mandated that all local governments implement PB. States, counties, public housing authorities, schools, and community organizations have also experimented with PB for their budgets. In recognition of these experiences, the United Nations has promoted PB as a best practice of democratic governance.

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