Riga is no stranger to participatory budgeting

The city of Riga is no stranger to participatory budgeting - a principle that strengthens democratic values among its residents by giving them actual tools and power to affect the development of their neighbourhoods and the city. With a “kick off” project in 2019 Riga has been implementing participatory budgeting for 5 years now, which has resulted in multiple improvements around the city - some finished, some still in the making. New skateboarding tracks, leisure areas, walking paths, picnic spots, dog parks, playgrounds, improvements of the beach area and the like. Age from which projects can be submitted and voted for has been lowered from 18 to 16, which brings extra attention to youth involvement into participatory budgeting.

 

Several other municipalities have been following similar paths, and according to the Law on Local Governments, which entered into force on January 1 of this year, starting from 2025, all local governments in Latvia will have to implement mandatory participatory budgeting programs.

Also Riga is preparing for some changes. Along with the increase of the total program budget to more than 1 million (starting next year), not only infrastructure related, but also so called “soft” projects will be supported.

 

Participatory budgeting has been implemented not only on municipal, but also school level. However, it is not mandatory in Latvia and only few schools have been taking part in this. Nevertheless, more and more attention is being brought to this matter, starting with a pilot project in 2020 by Transparency International LATVIA that involved 6 schools from around the country. For the first time students themselves were in charge of deciding on the best ways to spend 1000 EUR of the school’s budget. The process involved developing ideas, presenting them, voting, and finally implementing them. Some of the results include new sports uniforms for the local football team, chill and free-time spot, new school sign and others.

 

Youth involvement doesn’t stop there. By implementing the YUPAD project, the representatives from the Education, Culture and Sports department of Riga City Council (more specifically, Youth division) have managed to spread the awareness and understanding of participatory budgeting and the importance of involving youth.



Disclaimer

YUPAD Project was funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or [European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)]. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.