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To find out more about the progress of the Finnish pilots, please visit our website at: www.lab.fi/empaci (info available in Finnish and English)

For more information about the results of the inhabitant survey, please take a look at the report (available only in Finnish)


Kiinnostaako pelillisyyden hyödyntäminen osallistuvassa budjetoinnissa? Tutustu aiheeseen tarkemmin verkkotapahtumamme taltioinnissa, #PBbase-verkoston YouTube-kanavalla: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE37LFUHGXY


Spreading Finnish PB Knowledge Through “Train the Trainer” Videos

This text was previously published in LAB Focus -blog:

Planning, setting up and running a participatory budgeting (PB) process requires a lot of effort and resources – be it money, time, or knowledge (Sinervo in Tolpo 2021). Academic partners of the EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region project, LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University, have studied and supported Finnish PB processes. They have noticed firsthand the strain the process puts on the often-thin resources of municipalities. To support municipalities and other PB stakeholders the project has come up with a range of tips and tools for sharing knowledge and real-life experiences on PB. (EmPaci 2021.)

The concept behind the Train the Trainer model, where knowledge on PB is shared from different viewpoints and sources, is described in more detail in our previous blog post Train the Trainer – Participation Requires Training (Heinonen 2020).

Image 1. Finnish municipalities have taken an active interest in PB. Now is the time to spread the tips and tools across the Baltic Sea Region using the Train-the-Trainer model. (Altmann 2016)

PB – what, why and how?

The Finnish partners have documented some of the key components of PB implementation into three videos, highlighting the theme, tools, and practical knowledge of Finnish PB. Typically, information and materials about Finnish PB is provided only in Finnish, as resources limit the provision of language versions. Train the Trainer videos are available in both Finnish and English. This not only helps support the non-Finnish speakers locally, but also benefit the wider PB community globally.

The Participatory Budgeting Challenges Administration video focuses on municipalities. In this video researchers from Tampere University provide a basis for understanding PB, discuss the challenges running a PB from perspective of municipal organization, and offer some recent examples of Finnish PB.

In the Participatory Budgeting is Done Together video the spotlight is on the first Finnish EmPaci PB Pilot – OmaLahti PB – run in the City of Lahti in 2020. PB Coordinators, who planned, set up, and ran the pilot for the city, share their experiences on the whole process. You also get a chance to find out more about a Lahti specialty – PB Coaches (city employees) and Project Guardians (ordinary citizens) – who supported the process. You will also find out what were their roles and what did it take from a city employee and an ordinary citizen to take part in the PB in such an active way.

The third video Facilitating Group Discussions and Workshops provides tips for city employees for meeting ordinary citizens in their everyday lives, and to spark their interest to take part in joint matters like PB. Motivating citizens is essential but it can sometimes feel difficult. Video illustrates how developing facilitation skills help during these encounters and help ensure the quality of the entire process. The topic of the video was selected based on feedback received from the Finnish pilot municipalities Lahti and Riihimäki, where a second PB was run in 2020.

The Finnish versions of the videos can be found on the Finnish project home page.


Annukka Heinonen, Master of Business Administration, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences, and as a project manager in the EU Interreg fundedEmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project. There are altogether 17 partners working on improving PB at Empaci. LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University are supported by Association of Finnish Municipalities.


EmPaci. 2021. Project webpage. [Cited 14.4.2021]. Available at: www.empaci.eu

Heinonen, A. 2020. Train the Trainer – participation Requires Training. LAB Innovations. [Cited 20.4.2021]. Available at: https://blogit.lab.fi/innovations/en/2020/04/08/train-the-trainer-participation-requires-training/

Tolpo, A. 2021. Tutkijat kouluttavat kuntapäättäjiä asukkaiden kuuntelemisessa: “Kunnat ovat yllättyneet, miten työläs ja aikaa vaativa prosessi on”. YLE. [Cited 15.4.2021]. Available at: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11855737


LAB. 2021. Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region (Empaci). [Cited 15.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.lab.fi/fi/projekti/empowering-participatory-budgeting-baltic-sea-region-empaci


Heinonen, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Lehtonen, P. & Tsokkinen, S. 2021a. Participatory Budgeting Challenges Administration. Video. Uploader Annukka Heinonen. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoW_tK8IdQc

Heinonen, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Tsokkinen, S., Mäkinen, T., Virta, S., Määttä, I. & Kopra, H. 2021b. Participatory Budgeting is Done Together. Video. Uploader Annukka Heinonen. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmr9BB600W8

Karreinen, L., Salovaara, A., Sinervo, L-M., Kurkela, K., Heinonen, A. & Tsokkinen, S. Facilitating Group Discussions and Workshops. Video. Uploader Annukka Heinonen. [Cited 13.4.2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWu8YoUzIdo


Altmann, G. 2016. Tiimi, palaute, vahvistaminen. Pixabay. [Cited 14.4.2021]. Available at: https://pixabay.com/fi/illustrations/ryhm%C3%A4-tiimi-palaute-vahvistaminen-1825503/



The Cherry Park took the first place in the first OmaLahti PB

Picture: The idea of a cherry tree park was a favorite among the citizens. (Couleur, Pixabay)

The citizens of Lahti voted in their first ever city level PB, and altogether 10 ideas will be implemented by the end of 2021. There is a whole host of ideas from all four areas of the city, so participatory budgeting will liven up the city in a new way giving the citizens a chance to explore and enjoy their surroundings.

City of Lahti News Bulletin: https://www.lahti.fi/en/news/vote-is-up-these-participatory-budgeting-ideas-will-be-implemented/

Couleur, Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/fi/photos/japanin-kirsikkapuita-kukat-pinkki-2168858/

Annukka Heinonen, Master of Business Administration, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as Project Manager in the EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project.


Picture: There is an online PB platform in use at the City of Riihimäki, to make the process of idea creation and gathering, processing as well as voting easier. (City of Riihimäki)

The Results of the 2nd Riihimäki PB - and the 2nd Finnish EmPaci PB pilot - are Out

The voting phase of the second PB-run in the Finnish City of Riihimäki has ended in December. The following five plans were voted for implementation in 2021 from the 17 possibilities:

  • An x-ray machine for the city vet 40 000 € (382 votes)
  • More trash cans in the city 10 000 € (205 votes)
  • Free condoms to be given out in secondary schools 3 000 € (184 votes)
  • Prevention of Arion vulgaris ”Espanjansiruetana” 30 000 € (166 votes)
  • A series of outdoor concerts 4 000 € (132 votes)

There was an increase in voting compared to the first round of PB in 2019. “It was also nice to see, that citizens had an active approach towards PB in this run,” says Mia Miettinen Communications and Marketing Manager from the City of Riihimäki. A total of 740 citizens took part in the vote which makes the voting percentage around two percent. All citizens over 12 years old were eligible to vote in the participatory budgeting scheme.

For more information on Riihimäki PB (in Finnish): https://osallistu.riihimaki.fi/processes/osbu-2020

Miettinen, M. 2020. Tweet by Communications and Marketing Manager, City of Riihimäki. Available at: Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiaMiettinen/status/1338825795180122114

Logo of the PB platform, City of Riihimäki. https://osallistu.riihimaki.fi/processes/osbu-2020

Annukka Heinonen, Master of Business Administration, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as Project Manager in the EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project.


Finnish PB Piloting Expads: Case Riihimäki

Picture of gears and ideas flying around.  Hercer 2020

Image 1. There is currently a lot going on in the Finnish PB scene. EmPaci-project works on spreading the knowledge on the theme among the Baltic Sea Region so that we can all learn from each other. (Hercer 2020.)

It is an exciting time to be working on participatory budgeting “PB” in Finland as many municipalities are giving their inhabitants a stronger voice with it. LAB University of Applied Sciences (LAB) and Tampere University (TAU) support this process by working alongside the Finnish pilot municipalities.

The first Finnish PB pilot of the EmPaci team, the OmaLahti PB, was run in the City of Lahti beginning in spring 2020. There, inhabitants had their say on how 100 000 € of city funds were spent improving their city. The inhabitants have spoken, and the 10 most popular ideas are now at implementation stage to be completed by the end of 2021. Work on PB continues as LAB and TAU are currently conducting an evaluation on the pilot process with surveys and interviews with inhabitants, city employees connected with the pilot as well as political decision-makers. This will provide Lahti with up-to-date knowledge on their PB. (City of Lahti. 2020.)

The EmPaci team has now expanded its horizons and taken on another Finnish pilot municipality – the City of Riihimäki, where PB is conducted for the second time, and is currently underway.

PB in the Riihimäki Way

In the Riihimäki case, the city has set up a separate fund of 1 M Euros after they sold their share in the local energy company Riihimäen kaukolämpö Oy in 2018. This gives the inhabitants a chance to improve their hometown and make it better for all by working with a 100 000 € budget in the 2020 PB. (City of Riihimäki 2019a; City of Riihimäki 2019b.)

In their first ever PB in 2019, the inhabitants had their say over a budget of 50 000 €. They came up with 119 ideas, that they placed on the web-based PB-platform for all to see, 64 of which then moved onto the voting stage. The inhabitants voted seven ideas to be implemented, among them a range of ideas from improving their neighborhoods to events. (City of Riihimäki 2019c.)

In this second PB, the idea creation phase was conducted in autumn 2020 and gathered 45 ideas. This time, the city had added a new rule for the PB idea phase, which stated that in order to proceed to the pre-check phase and later voting phase, an idea needed 10 Likes from other inhabitants to show their support. 24 ideas passed this test and are in the pre-check phase where the city determine the costs and make sure the idea could be implemented if chosen. The voting phase of this second round will begin in November, and the winning ideas to be implemented will be made public at the turn of the year. (City of Riihimäki 2020.)

LAB and TAU support Riihimäki by offering the EmPaci Train the Trainer (TtT) -model to help spread knowledge about PB to those implementing it. An evaluation will also be conducted by the partners at the end of the PB run, so that Riihimäki can develop their PB further.

All in all, EmPaci is currently gathering interesting data about running participatory budgeting in Finland. Other project partners from Germany, Poland, Russia, Latvia and Lithuania are doing the same, so there will be an increase in data and knowledge on PB in the Baltic Sea Region in the near future thus improving the situation of this phenomena in the area.


Annukka Heinonen, MBA, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as a project manager in the EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project.


City of Lahti. 2020. Osallistuva budjetointi. [Read 9th Nov. 2020]. Available at: https://www.lahti.fi/kaupunki-ja-paatoksenteko/osallistu-ja-vaikuta/osbu/

City of Riihimäki. 2019a. Kaupunkilaiset pääsevät ideoimaan ja päättämään, miten kaupungin rahoja käytetään – Riihimäki valmistelee osallistuvaa budjetointia. [Read 11th Nov. 2020]. Available at: https://www.riihimaki.fi/kaupunkilaiset-paasevat-ideoimaan-ja-paattamaan-miten-kaupungin-rahoja-kaytetaan-riihimaki-valmistelee-osallistuvaa-budjetointia/

City of Riihimäki. 2019b. Kaupunginhallituksen 12.8.2019 pöytäkirja. [Read 9th Nov. 2020]. Available at: https://www.riihimaki.fi/kaupunginhallitus-12-8-2019-poytakirja/

City of Riihimäki. 2019c. Osallistuva budjetointi 2019. [Read 9th Nov. 2020). Available at: https://osallistu.riihimaki.fi/processes/osbu-2019

City of Riihimäki. 2020. Osallistuva budjetointi 2020. [Read 9th Nov. 2020]. Available at: https://www.riihimaki.fi/paatoksenteko/osallistu-ja-vaikuta/osallistuva-budjetointi/


EmPaci. 2020. Official project website. [Read 6th Nov.2020]. Available: www.empaci.eu


Hercer, H. 2020. Picture: logineuve_ilustra on Pixabay. [Cited 7th December 2020]. Available at: https://pixabay.com/fi/vectors/pyydykset-ty%C3%B6-joukkue-yhdess%C3%A4-5193383/


The Finnish Pilot - #OmaLahti-PB Continues

The participatory budgeting of  Lahti #OmaLahti has succeed to reach the residents of Lahti quite well. In the early stages altogether 713 ideas concerning the use of money were submitted, which is  an excellent amount of ideas. In the final voting all together 3896 voters gave their opinions about the projects that should be implemented. In the PB, the communication towards residents is very focal and in Lahti this communication has succeed quite well. It is also delightful that voting has reached people from different age groups. The biggest age group was residents between 31 and 40 years. The people of this age group are often in the middle of the busiest years. These numbers of participants give a solid ground for the future PB projects and to overall development of citizen participation.

Kaisa Kurkela, Project researcher I Doctoral candidate, Tampere University


The Finnish Pilot - #OmaLahti-PB Continues

#OmaLahti-PB process is now in voting stage. (Picture: www.lahti.fi/osbu)

In the #OmaLahti -PB pilot, all Lahti citizens are now invited to vote for their favorites of the 58 ideas that went through to this stage after idea-, pre-check and co-creation stages. Voting is done online and at Trio Palvelutori-service point as well as at libraries until 9.9.2020. Citizens of all ages can vote once, for up to four ideas (one for each area the city was divided into, max. budget 25 000 €/area). The results well be available later this autumn.

As the pilot is coming to an end during the autumn, the overall evaluation with the academic partners of EmPaci-project of the PB process is also running simultaneously. It will provide information for the city to develop their process as well as give others, interested in running a PB, UpToDate knowledge on the practicalities and other considerations.

Annukka Heinonen, LAB-University of Applied Sciences


Co-Creation in Use at Lahti PB Pilot

The PB co-creation event Lahti PB “Lackathon” held at the Palvelutori-service point 13.8.2020 gathered a good mix of inhabitants, NGO’s as well as city official – some closely connected with ideas such as those who had come to work on their own ideas and others just people walking by and taking part. The event kicked off with a short presentation about the current state of the PB pilot as well as a video greeting from mayor Pekka Timonen. The international research and development project EmPaci also provided knowledge about PB to the participants as well as conducted some observation for research purposes.

Co-creation can be done in many ways and at the Lackathon it was conducted using five idea points where participants got a chance to work on altogether 14 ideas. Participants were free to take part in as many or as few points as they wished. Among the ideas being worked on were improvements for recreational areas, street art and a food bank -idea. Tools for gathering and analyzing data, maps and other visual aids were used to help participants finetune ideas into proposals using the knowledge and feedback from individual inhabitants, city officials and other interested parties. All points were hosted by a facilitator from the City of Lahti. The four-hour event was filled with interesting conversations, new ideas and many tweaks into the ideas, and the atmosphere was altogether positive. The co-created ideas will now move onto the voting stage at the end of the month.

Image 1. Running a successful PB requires input from all parties. (Image: Pixabay 2020 / CC0)A co-creation event for Lahti PB “Lackathon" gathered together people from individual inhabitants to city officials to work on turning great ideas into fabulous proposals. (Picture: A. Heinonen, EmPaci)

More information in Finnish about EmPaci-project in Finland, please visit: www.lab.fi/empaci

Annukka Heinonen,

Project Manager, EmPaci-project at LAB University of Applied Sciences


There is a Role for Everyone in the PB Puzzle

Previously published at LAB-innovations -blog 17.6.2020: EXPERIMENTAL DEVELOPMENT ECOSYSTEMS FOR INNOVATIONS


About a third of Finnish municipalities have or are thinking about running a participatory budgeting (PB) project. (Kurikka 2020). As municipal resources are limited, PB is often run as an additional project with limited personnel and supported by other city functions, such as communications. Various service divisions of the city have an important role in PB pre-checking and cost-calculation of ideas received from inhabitants. They often handle the entire PB implementation in Finnish municipalities.

Image 1. Running a successful PB requires input from all parties. (Image: Pixabay 2020 / CC0)Image 1. Running a successful PB requires input from all parties. (Image: Pixabay 2020 / CC0)

PB Coaches promoting PB

Many municipalities have appointed special PB representatives within their organizations for making PB possible, boosting the changes, and enabling the smooth running of the project. The City of Lahti ‘PB Coaches’ from the service divisions support the pilot from within the organization and help inhabitants with their ideas in the co-creation phase. (City of Lahti 2020) The City of Helsinki ‘Stadiluotsit’ or ‘City Pilots’ support the PB process and inhabitants at their own specific areas in Helsinki. (Laaksonen 2020)

Inhabitants have the inside track

The nature of participation is to be open to all. Municipalities aim to join forces with different groups such as NGOs’ and inhabitants to get clearer picture of what is going on in the municipality, as well as to get a helping hand for PB. An inhabitant survey conducted in Lahti in 2019 showed that respondents are interested in PB, but the topic is not yet well known (Osallistuminen ja vaikuttaminen Lahdessa 2019). To make PB more familiar, the City of Lahti appointed a group of locals to act as Project Guardians for three specific areas of the city (Eastern, Southern and Northern) as well as for the entire city. They support the PB pilot by communicating with inhabitants and helping them to take part in the pilot. (City of Lahti 2020) “I participated out of general interest and have found the role of Project Guardian fun so far. We have had the chance to take part in planning the PB, as well as promoting the pilot during the idea creation phase in the spring. I’m looking forward to new and exciting experiences along the pilot,” says Ville-Veikko Vesala (2020) – one of the Lahti PB Project Guardians.

Using pears as ambassadors has proven to be a good tactic in other municipalities too, as Katja Repo (2020) from Tuusula points out: “A message is often more relevant when it comes from someone in your shoes”. PB can bring all the different groups of people together.

More information in Finnish about EmPaci-project in Finland, please visit: www.lab.fi/empaci

Annukka Heinonen,

Project Manager, EmPaci-project at LAB University of Applied Sciences


NEWS FROM LAHTI PILOT: Over 700 ideas given by inhabitants in Lahti PB pilot!

The participatory budgeting “PB” pilot in the City of Lahti is well underway and the initial – idea creation – phase has been successfully conducted. The city received 713 ideas from inhabitants on how to improve their home municipality. As can be expected from a traditionally sports oriented city, the inhabitants chose sport as one of the PB themes and many ideas given fall under that category. At the moment the ideas are being pre-checked to make sure they could be implemented. After the final ideas that pass that check are selected, the city will gather inhabitants and all interested parties together to co-create them further in a live or online hackathon -type event. The vote itself that will take place in August/September 2020 and will determine those ideas that are implemented for the inhabitants to enjoy in the future.

For more information about the PB in Lahti and a closer look at the ideas given, please visit:


More information in Finnish about EmPaci-project in Finland, please visit: www.lab.fi/empaci

Annukka Heinonen,

Project Manager, EmPaci-project at LAB University of Applied Sciences


Train the Trainer – Participation Requires Training

Previously published at LAB-innovations -blog 8.4.2020: EXPERIMENTAL DEVELOPMENT ECOSYSTEMS FOR INNOVATIONS

Picture 1. Participation requires a new kind of understanding and skillset from those working in municipalities. Methods and communication can be practiced and developed to make participation a natural part of everyday work. Photo: Annukka Heinonen.

There are 310 different Finnish municipalities of different size and population with unique challenges and resources (The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities 2019). In order to succeed participation requires effort and co-operation from several parties in different stages of the process. To become reality in a sustainable way, enough resources need to be allocated to participation – be it money, labor or knowledge (Lehtonen et al. 2020; Sinervo 2020). EmPaci-project believes that the often-scarce resources of municipalities can be taken into better use by for example training.

Train the Trainer Model Boosts Development

The training needed can be conducted using a Train the Trainer approach below from the EmPaci project (figure 1), where new skills are built upon existing ones and knowledge is shared amongst others. The training emphasizes practice but is built upon a theoretical background. The implementation of the Train the Trainer training model is based on small but systematic steps toward Participatory Budgeting (PB). The model is always tailored to suit the needs of participants.

Figure 1. The EmPaci model tailored for Lahti by the Finnish project team(Heinonen 2020)

Practice Makes Perfect – Preparing for PB in Lahti

The city level participation model and PB as a tool are currently being developed in Lahti, and the work is done in a systematic way. An internal survey was conducted in 2019 for the personnel of The City of Lahti to map out the current state of participation and PB. The results pointed out that participation as a method was well known in Lahti but the personnel felt a need for support and practice in holding workshops as facilitators and finding ways to support inhabitant participation in different ways (City of Lahti 2019). The international EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project, funded by the EU Interreg fund supports the city by providing them with up to date research on PB and the personnel with opportunities for practical training.

Picture 2. Aino Mäkilä (left), Marko Ahokas and Sini OJala took eagerly part in the Train the Trainer event, and are looking forward to the the PB pilot. Photo: Annukka Heinonen.

Internal Train the Trainer -events have been held in early 2020 regarding PB for employees of the City of Lahti, and more are planned for different stakeholders and inhabitants.  City employees from different units have been very interested in finding out more about this subject and taking part in practical training. “The concept of PB in general and methods in particular are very interesting as we interact a lot with inhabitants and other stakeholders in our daily work. We look forward to using PB and finding out what kind of effects we will achieve with inhabitants and also within units in our organization,” conclude participants Aino Mäkilä, Marko Ahokas and Sini Ojala from The City of Lahti.

Continuous Development as a Goal

The training model needs to be tailored to suit the needs of each individual situation and those of the participants to get the greatest effect. “We gather feedback from the participants and monitor and adapt the process continuously as our goal is to enable the best possible level of participation for inhabitants, a successful PB-pilot for the City of Lahti as well as gather and distribute up-to-date knowledge on PB in Finland for our international partners and others interested in taking up PB in their municipalities,” concludes Lotta-Maria Sinervo, Project Lead at Tampere University – a Finnish partner of EmPaci alongside LAB University of Applied Sciences. In Lahti, new and improved skills will soon be taken into use for the benefit of inhabitants as the City of Lahti released a statement in February saying that a PB pilot will be run in 2020 (City of Lahti 2020).

Read more about PB pilot in Lahti.

For more information:
PB at LAB website
PB at EmPaci-project website


Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities 2019. Webpage 3.4.2019: Suomen kaupungit ja kunnat. [Cited 13th March 2020] Available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/tilastot-ja-julkaisut/kaupunkien-ja-kuntien-lukumaarat-ja-vaestotiedot

Kurikka, Päivi, 2020. Specialist at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. Presentation “EmPaci-hankkeen OSBU-työpaja” at a Train the Trainer -event by EmPaci at LAB University of Applied Sciences 18.2.2020, Lahti.

City of Lahti 2019. An internal survey: ”Osallisuustyön nykytila-arvio”. Not published, available at the City of Lahti.

Lehtonen, P. Jäntti, A. Sinervo, L-M & Kurkela, K. 2020. Hypetyksestä huomio osallistuvan budjetoinnin resursseihin. The Association of the Local and Regional Authorities  2020. [Cited 9 March 2020] Available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/blogi/2020/hypetyksesta-huomio-osallistuvan-budjetoinnin-resursseihin

Sinervo, L-M. 2020. Project Lead at EmPaci-project, Tampere University.  Presentation: “Kestävä osallisuus, kestävä kuntatalous – osallisuuden resursoinnin näkökulmia” at Kuntademokratia foorumi -event 10.3.2020. [Cited: 26th March 2020, available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/tapahtumat/2020/kuntademokratiaverkoston-tapaaminen-1032020.  City of Lahti 2020. Osallistuva budjetointi. [Cited: 3. March 2020] Available at: https://www.lahti.fi/paatoksenteko/osallistujavaikuta/osallistuva-budjetointi


Ahokas, Marko. 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.

Mäkilä, Aino, 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.

Ojala, Sini, 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.


Annukka Heinonen (MBA) works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as a Project Manager for EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participation in the Baltic Sea Region -project at LAB.


Previously published at LAB University of Applied Sciences Innovations blog


Making Participatory Budgeting ”PB” Familiar to the Citizens of Lahti – Pilot Starting in the Spring 2020

Published March 31, 2020 here 

What would your dream home municipality be like? The inhabitants of Lahti get to develop their municipality through PB in 2020. 

Finnish municipalities have been quite active in taking up participatory budgeting “PB” where inhabitants get a chance to take part in dividing finances in their home municipality. A third of Finnish municipalities have or are planning on using this modern method of democracy (Kurikka 2020). The City of Lahti has been implementing PB for some years in order to reach out to their inhabitants and strengthen the appeal of the city. In a recent survey conducted by the EmPaci-project and The City of Lahti among the inhabitants on participation and having a say, the response showed interest even though few were familiar with the concept (Osallistunen ja vaikuttaminen Lahdessa 2020).

PB in the Lahti Way

There are several ways to implement PB, such as holding workshops, discussions or utilizing existing structures, such as youth councils (Pihlaja 2017, 14). The City of Lahti has decided to run this PB-pilot where 100 000 euros are divided among ideas suggested by the inhabitants in a way that is open to all. The money will be spent using an area project model where the city and sum are divided in four ways: into entire city, northern, southern and eastern area – 25% each. The city has chosen three themes: wellbeing, community and environment. The inhabitants voted for a fourth theme: sports. In the Lahti model the inhabitants will first be encouraged to come up with ideas along the themes. Experts from the city will then carry out a quick review of the gathered ideas to make sure they could be implemented within the framework of the pilot. The ideas that pass this phase will then move on to the co-development phase where the ideas are worked on in participatory ways. Finally, the inhabitants get a chance to vote on their favorites. The process is very quick as the idea phase will take place in late spring and the voting will be done in early autumn. The chosen ideas will then move on to the implementation that will start in late 2020. All in all, the Lahti model is built heavily on participation and co-operation in all phases. (City of Lahti 2020.)

Strengthening the Understanding Through PB

This form of PB is a method that gives inhabitants a possibility to voice their opinions by giving out ideas and voting on them, thus influencing municipal spending. But it also provides inhabitants a chance to strengthen their knowledge on municipal finances and the rules and regulations related to it. It is not always clear to inhabitants what the responsibilities of municipality are and what things cost or what kinds of long-term implications there are related to maintenance and running costs of specific municipal projects. PB helps make these processes easier to understand and more see through which strengthens the knowledge level of the inhabitants. The inhabitants in turn can give their home municipality new information, common-sense solutions and their own knowledge which provides the municipality with a new perspective. (Ahonen & Rask 2019.)

Follow the Lahti PB pilot here!

For more information:
PB at LAB website
PB at EmPaci-project website


Ahonen, V. & Rask, M. 2019. Uutta kunnista 2/2019: Osallistuvan budjetoinnin mallit ja trendit Suomessa. [Cited 23.3.2020]. Available at: https://helda.helsinki.fi//bitstream/handle/10138/304520/1985nro2osallistuvabudjetointi_2.pdf?sequence=1

City of Lahti. 2020. Osallistuva budjetointi. [Cited 23.3.2020]. Available at: https://www.lahti.fi/paatoksenteko/osallistujavaikuta/osallistuva-budjetointi

Kurikka, P. 2020. EmPaci-hankkeen OSBU-työpaja. Presentation at EmPaci project’s Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020.

Osallistuminen ja vaikuttaminen Lahdessa. 2020. Asukaskysely 2019. Raportti 21.2.2020. [Cited 23.3.2020]. Available at: https://www.lab.fi/sites/default/files/2020-01/EmPaci_Asukaskysely2019_osallistuminen%20ja%20vaikuttaminen%20Lahdessa_raportti_2112020.pdf

Pihlaja, R. 2017. Osallistuva budjetointi kunnissa ja maakunnissa. [Cited 23.3.2020] Available at: http://shop.kuntaliitto.fi/product_details.php?p=3356


Annukka Heinonen, MBA, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as a project manager in the EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region project.


NEWS FROM LAHTI PILOT: Participatory budgeting in the Finnish City of Lahti – unfamiliar but interesting

Nowadays changes are sought after in society to supplement traditional means of democratic participation such as voting in elections. Participatory budgeting (PB) where inhabitants get a chance to take part in municipal decision making regarding economic and resourcing decisions are one way of modernizing the system.

The City of Lahti – the Finnish pilot municipality - and EmPaci – EmPowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project partners from LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University are currently working on these issues. To find out how the inhabitants of Lahti feel about participation and participatory budgeting, they conducted an inhabitant survey “Participation and influencing in Lahti” in October 2019.

The results are in and the feedback very positive. Over 1000 replies were gathered, most of which by an electronic Webropol survey system chosen alongside a traditional letter survey to make answering quick and easy for inhabitants. According to the survey, the inhabitants of the City of Lahti in Finland are interested in participation and want to take part in municipal decision making. The idea of participatory budgeting (PB) was found interesting even though the concept was unfamiliar to most. It seems clear that inhabitants in Lahti want to have their say in municipal decision making which is a good starting point for future piloting of PB.

For more information:



Annukka Heinonen

Project manager, EmPaci, LAB University of Applied Sciences