Participatory budgeting is a means of managing public budgets in a way which directly involves local residents. So instead of just voting in your local government representatives and then having to wait four or five years to vote them back out again, in some places citizens are being given the opportunity to get involved in deciding how portions of public money are actually spent.
Check out this brilliant video from the Participatory Budgeting Project to find out more.
Giving residents a say improves citizen engagement, empowers communities, helps ensure public money is spent according to local wishes, and can lead to an improvement in the otherwise widening democratic deficit seen in many countries today.
It also gives citizens an important insight into the realities of the public budgeting process, and the many difficult compromises public officials are forced to make.
If we all started participatory budgeting projects in our cities, imagine what we could achieve?