You Decide is a participatory budget initiative aimed at promoting greater participation of young people and at increasing their contribution to the development of the city.
Public participation, particularly of the younger generations, can play a key role in the efforts to achieve climate neutrality. You Decide [Tu Decides] is a participatory budget for youth of the Braga City Council. Participatory budgeting, wherein members of a community deliberate on the allocation and distribution of public resources, has long been recognised as a means of involving citizens in local governance and decision-making. You Decide is aimed at promoting greater participation of young people and at increasing their contribution to the development of the city. In practice, this initiative allows young people to develop and vote upon which projects they would like to see completed in their city. The winning young citizens get to also implement the project under the supervision and support of the municipality.
Participatory budgeting; Youth; Democratic Innovation; Participation; Empowerment
Recurring initiative from 2015 to 2019
Participatory budgeting; co-design; co-production.
Scale(s) of the case analysed
Target audience and dimension
Domain(s) of application
Challenge addressed/ Problem-led approach
Impact to climate neutrality
Tu Decides is closely linked to the Mission of achieving climate-neutral cities by 2030 in two ways. Firstly, Tu Decides brings young citizens aged 14 to 35 into the political realm. Participatory budgeting allows young people to create, submit and vote for project proposals aiming to provide solutions associated with sustainable development, culture, sports and inclusiveness. The projects with more votes ultimately receive public funding for implementation. Tu Decides is a good example of how to involve citizens, young in this case, in the co-production of services, which can lead to greater community empowerment and satisfaction and facilitate implementation, as well as help develop new products and innovative services.
Secondly, many of the projects/actions proposed and even selected and implemented are related to sectors and policies that are key for the transition to climate neutrality. For instance, some initiatives are linked to the creation of bike lanes or raising awareness about the importance of recycling and upcycling, native trees, among others.
Context & Public policy of reference
Innovative approach(es) addressed
The project You Decide [Tu Decides] allows and empowers young citizens to propose ideas and projects that can bring solutions to their daily problems. Young people also have to vote (in-person or online) and the most popular proposals receive funding for implementation. Ultimately, the winning proposals have to be implemented by the proponents. Therefore, this initiative allows youngsters to directly influence how to spend part of the public budget and take part in the design and implementation of solutions and public services to address current issues of concern for their lives in the city. This can ultimately help build trust from young people towards the municipality and co-shape the long-term vision for Braga. You Decide is also an example of an innovative financial practice that has the potential to enhance youngsters' voice in budget decision-making.
The project Tu Decides was initiated by the Municipality of Braga, in collaboration with the Local Youth Council. The project Tu Decides sits on a portal called Braga Participa. This online portal focusing on participatory budgeting was launched in 2015. It offers three participatory budgets for citizen engagement: Participatory Budgeting Braga, Schools Participatory Budget and You Decide [Tu Decides].
Stakeholder networks and organisational model
|Young citizens between 14-35
|Municipality of Braga
|Local Youth Council
|Loja Europa Jovem
nteraction between participants
Political: A very strong political commitment from the Mayor. In fact, Ricardo Rio, the current mayor, was strongly involved in the implementation of the “Braga Participa” online portal. The involvement of this political figure has given strength, visibility and legitimacy to the idea of youth involvement in decision-making.
Moreover, participatory budgeting is very important in Portugal, to the extent that in 2017 a National Participatory Budget was completed for the first time.
Social: Youth is seen as a key group to engage with to move towards a more inclusive and sustainable Braga. This is linked to the fact that Braga received the title of Youth Capital of Europe in 2012. Moreover, around 40% of Braga’s population is under 25 years old. Young people are also more familiar with digital forms, which helps facilitate participation.
Key inhibiting factors
Political: Some projects have yet to begin or be completed, which has resulted in frustration from citizens. This is probably linked to some gaps in the necessary support and supervision of these projects.
Drawbacks/pros/cons of the solutions (after implementation)
Good participation levels. Young people are motivated to contribute and provide solutions to the city challenges, which can help build mutual trust between young citizens, other citizens and the municipality. This is also useful to build the knowledge and capacity of young people, that by getting involved can learn to solve problems, work as a team
City officials listen to young citizens’ needs
New and innovative ideas have space to flourish
Delayed implementation of projects
After a SMS activation code was introduced to validate registration to the portal for voting, the number of voters dropped. This highlights the importance of making tools for participation simple.
This project could be easily adopted and adapted in different cities or countries. In fact, participatory budgets are being implemented in many cities and countries around the world already.
Main positive lessons/opportunities identified
Political commitment from the Mayor from the start
Focusing on young citizens was a good choice. Young citizens represent an important percentage of Braga’s population and gained momentum after the Youth Capital prize that the city won in 2012.
Focus on involving youth in the whole project cycle of participatory budgeting, from designing and voting, to implementing and monitoring projects to improve the well-being and inclusion of youth in the city
Main failures/barriers identified
Implementation of some projects took longer or failed