Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Participatory Budgeting and Placemaking: Concepts, Methods, and Practices

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Abstract:  Participatory budgeting has arisen as an interesting form of citizen participation in urban development and, thus, as a new way of exercising placemaking and grassroots democracy. In this article, we provide an analysis of projects in Lisbon (Portugal), Valencia (Spain), and Warsaw (Poland) with a focus on three key projects concerned with improving the public realm and their contribution to enhancing the network of public open spaces. Our guiding question is: What are the potential benefits of participatory budgeting to increase green spaces and urban governance? A comparison of the three cities’ participatory budgeting programmes provides an overview of their social and political goals and the contents that provide opportunities for citizens’ participation in decision-making. The cases of Jardim do Caracol da Penha (Lisbon), the Green Street Świętokrzyska (Warsaw), and the Green Plan for the Poblats Marítims District (Valencia) pave the way for a discussion on engagement, empowerment, and connectivity with the local communities through public spaces. Using participatory budgeting as a planning and political instrument at the municipal level, as the three cases show, can be a useful way to enhance and enrich the communities’ engagement with their environments. One aspect that emerged is the communication strategies implemented in the three cases. The analysis shows that the use of media and social networks to disseminate information and gather supporters for their ideas and this growth in political influence seems to be essential for participatory budgeting. The study is backed by desk work (comprehensive understanding of the local programmes) and field work to better identify the changes in loco.

Keywords:  citizen participation; community engagement; participatory budgeting; placemaking; Poland; Portugal; public realm; Spain



© Carlos Smaniotto Costa, Juan A. García-Esparza, Kinga Kimic. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.