What is PB?

Posted on:

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. There are over 1,200 participatory budgets around the world, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Most of the well-known examples of participatory budgeting involve city administrations that have turned over decisions around municipal budgets, such as overall priorities and choice of new investments, to citizen assemblies. Other examples involve school budgets, housing project budgets, and the budgets of cooperatives and non-profit organizations.
These diverse experiences generally follow a basic process: diagnosis, discussion, decision-making, implementation, and monitoring. First, residents identify local priority needs, generate ideas to respond to these needs, and elect budget representatives for each community. These representatives then discuss the local priorities and develop concrete projects that address them, together with experts. Next, residents vote for which of these projects to fund. Finally, the government implements the chosen projects, and residents monitor implementation. For example, if residents identify recreation spaces as a priority, their budget representatives might develop a proposal for a new basketball court. The residents would then vote on this and other proposals, and if they approve the basketball court, the city pays to build it.
Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting can lead to more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

Written by