Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region (EmPaci)

Participatory budgeting brings people and ideas together. Also on show, logos from the Interreg, Tampere University, LAB Finland and the cities of Lahti and Riihimäki
Have Your say in municipal spending with EmPaci! (Project has ended 31.12.2021 - for more info: www.empaci.eu)

The EmPaci-project is a joint venture in the Baltic Sea Region to promote participatory budgeting in municipalities. Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic decision-making in which ordinary people take part in preparing and adopting a municipal or public budget.

The EmPaci project team includes Finnish partners, LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University who work together with 15 other partners from the Baltic Sea Region.
Project period
Project state
Project area
Project funding
Baltic Sea Region 2014-2020
LAB role
Takes place in project

THANK YOU - The Project has Ended but Developing PB Continues

For more info and tools, please take a look at the Online Manual we published in spring 2022. It offers current information and practical tips on what PB is and how to set up and run a PB.


EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region –project (InterregBSR) has ended 31.12.2021. We'd like to thank all of You that have contributed in some way to this joint venture!

A special thanks to our pilot municipalities – the cities of Lahti and Riihimäki, Association of Finnish Municipalities as well as all of our project partners within the BSR!

Even though the project has ended the development of PB continues. Our website contains a lot of useful information and tools to set up, run and develop PB. Our YouTube-channel has a selection of informative videos in many languages!

And, our open PBbase-network will also continue. For more info here or our LinkedIn-group!


Logos and pictures of different people

NEW IN! Short videos on setting up and running a participatory budgeting scheme are available now on the PBbase-network YouTube Channel!

We have also gathered a lot of up-to-date info on participatory budgeting and setting up and running a PB on our homepage. Take a closer look and use this info to your advantage now!


Join us at PBbase for networking and more info on PB

Welcome to a participatory budgeting webinar 16th of June 2021 at 14-15.30 (UTC+3). The brand new PBbase network invites you to join a discussion on smaller scale PB experiences in smaller scale municipalities.

Register by 14.6. at: https://forms.gle/fDCkYgvbb9LtBfNd6 #EmPaci

@InterregBSR @LABfinland @MAB_TampereUni


Are You interested in the stories and people behind EmPaci PBs?

EmPaci PBs in the Baltic Sea Region - 6 countries, 1123 ideas, 136 supported ideas, 32656 people voted and 1511000 € distributed.

Join our Facebook-page and take a closer look behind the scenes - meet the people running these PBs, researching the topic or having their say.


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 Riihimäki has ended and 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)

A total of 740 citizens took part in the vote which makes the voting percentage around two percent.


Before developing, find out where you are

Decorative picture
Picture: Luisella Planeta Leoni, Pixabay

After long and detailed work, the “Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region” (EmPaci) project is ready to uncover and introduce the first project output - Status Quo Analysis.

To give an idea of how Participatory budgeting (PB) can be implemented, this Status Quo Report aims to provide insights into the current state of citizen participation (CP) in general and PB in particular. It focuses on each of the EmPaci project partner countries - Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia – as well as Denmark, Estonia and Sweden.

First, on a national level, a short general description of the countries and definitions of CP and PB, a description of successful PB projects and potential hindrances and ways to foster PB in these countries, are provided. Secondly, the Status Quo Report proceeds with specific information about those municipalities, districts or planning regions, in which the EmPaci project is planning to either implement new or redesign already existing PB processes.

The following nine locations have been selected for the EmPaci PB pilots: Lahti (Finland), Bützow (Germany), Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia), Rietavas and Telšiai (Lithuania), Bielsko-Biała (Poland) as well as Moskovskaya Zastava/Moscow region of St.Petersburg, Suoyarvskoye Urban Settlement in the Republic of Karelia and Gatchina Municipal District in the Leningrad Region (Russia). These places are very different in terms of their surroundings, financial possibilities, characteristics of their citizens and legal frameworks. They have different stages for PB implementation, from no experience to several successful cycles of PB. Consequently, all locations deal with different challenges, from getting something new started to improving something existent. By making such information, knowledge, and practices available, stakeholders may find relevant inspiration applicable to their own region or municipality. Respectively, one can consider building a vision of “What could PB look like in our municipality?” “What could we change to improve our PB process?” This document, therefore, seeks to build capacities to implement PB in the BSR.

Status Quo Analysis is just one of the first results of the EmPaci project. Soon, in the coming months, further materials are planned for publication:

- A guidebook PB Blueprint: Successful PB projects, also beyond the BSR, will be analysed, and the best practices presented;

- Guide and description of the PB approaches (i.e. local adaptations);

- Guidebook for practitioners on how to implement PB;

- Public Budgeting Tool Feature Matrix with interactive selection and filtering capabilities;

- Online Manual and different Training materials to support PB organisers in educational activities;

- Communication and Dissemination Plan (CDP) for a better understanding of how to organise these processes.

Follow our web page www.empaci.eu to find out more about the project and the latest outcomes or social accounts of the national partners involved in the project.


Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic decision-making we do believe in, where ordinary people take part in preparing and adopting a municipal or public budget. In the BSR, only a few municipalities have applied a PB process on a regular basis. If you are interested in getting the support to develop your PB, please contact your national or the nearest EmPaci partner. More about the project can be found on www.empaci.eu.

Together we can gain more power in decision-making within local, regional or national public institutions!


Let's develop the OmaLahti-PB together

The Finnish academic partners of EmPaci - LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University are conducting an inhabitant survey in November on the OmaLahti PB. The aim of the survey is to provide inhabitants the chance to comment on the process of the first ever PB in Lahti to develop it furher. The survey, in Finnish, can be found here - have your say and make a difference!

Inhabitants have let ideas fly in Riihimäki

The second ever PB run is currently underway in Riihimäki, southern Finland. The inhabitants came up with altogether 45 ideas, 24 of which received the needed 10 Likes thus going forward to the implementation check phase. The city officials are currently working on those ideas deemed possible to implement under Riihimäki PB rules in co-operation with those that have given the ideas. The ideas will be given estimates and they will then move onto the voting phase beginning 10.11. Results of the PB will be published 14.12.


The city of Riihimäki is the 2nd Finnish EmPaci PB pilot

The city of Riihimäki is currently beginning their second PB run and they have chosen EmPaci to act as their partner in the process. The PB is implemented using the same electronic platform, that was used in the first PB in late 2019. Idea creation is open 1.9.-11.10.2020


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

The inhabitants of Lahti voted and 10 ideas will be implemented by the end of 2021. Congratulations to all whom took part!


Voting has finished

Voting on the OmaLahti PB has finished and the ideas to be implemented will be published shortly.


Voting on the #OmaLahti PB has begun

Voting on #OmaLahti PB has begun and will run until 9.9.2020
#OmaLahti-PB process is now in voting stage. (Picture: www.lahti.fi/osbu)

You can vote for your favorites online and at Trio Palvelutori-service point or at libraries until 9.9.2020. Take a look at the ideas and voting instructions and let yourself be heard in the developing of your city.


Together Towards the Vote

The PB co-creation event “Lackathon” held at the Palvelutori-service point 13.8.2020 gathered a group of inhabitants, NGO’s as well as city official. The event kicked of 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.

Inhabitants, NGOs' and city specialists co-created 14 OmaLahti PB ideas at the Lackathon at Palvelutori-servicepoint. (Picture: EmPaci/A.Heinonen)
Inhabitants, NGOs' and city specialists co-created 14 OmaLahti PB ideas at the Lackathon at Palvelutori-servicepoint. (Picture: EmPaci/A.Heinonen)

The Lackathon was conducted in five points where participants got a chance to work on altogether 14 ideas. Among the ideas were improvements for recreational areas, street art and a food bank -idea. The co-created ideas will now move onto the voting stage at the end of the month.


Joint the PB - Attend a Lackathon

The flood of ideas given in the spring have now been pre checked and the #OmaLahti PB pilot is moving towards the final voting phase beginning 28.8.2020 through the last pitstop “co-creation phase”. 14 ideas will be co-created live and as a group by inhabitants, city officials and other stakeholders at the Trio Palvelutori -service point (2. floor) “Lahti Lackathon – OSBU-workshop 13.8.2020 at 14:00 – 18:00. Take part and help make these exiting ideas even greater!

Ideas being co-created (other ideas that passed the pre-check go through to the vote directly):

  • An events package for NGO’s
  • An exercise festival at Laune central park
  • Free exercise spaces for patient organizations
  • Lets’ Clean Up Lahti – making the city cleaner 
  • Lets’ make electrical cabinets blossom
  • Street art to the city center
  • A distribution point for a “foodbank” in Nastola
  • Niinitie playing field renovation
  • Developing the Sopenkorpi Kesanto
  • A teaching and community hut to Mukkula 
  • Developing the beach and nature path at Porvoo River Area
  • Developing the beach at Myllysaari
  • Developing the beach and exercise area at Kankola
  • Developing the beach at Viuha

Pilot Sparked Interest Among Citizens

People exercising outdoors
Ideas about outdoor activities were popular (Picture: City of Lahti)

The City of Lahti is the Finnish pilot municipality of EmPaci. A PB-pilot where inhabitants get a chance to bring forward ideas and vote on their favorites has just started with the idea creation phase which was a hit - a total of 713 ideas were given. Many thanks to those who took part!

The pilot continues now with a checking phase where the City of Lahti makes sure the ideas given could actually be implemented. Those deemed to be possible then go through to the co-creation phase due in August where you can also take part. Voting will take place in September to determine which ideas will be implemented.

If you live in Lahti and are interested in making Lahti a better place to live - take a look and take part at the OmaLahti-PB at the City website!


More info on PB

A citizen survey has been published and it highlights the interest of citizens towards participatory budgeting even though the method is not yet know to many. For the report in Finnish, take a look here!

For more information about participatory budgeting (PB) in English, please visit our international project site at: www.empaci.eu


Or take a look at these blog posts and articles to find out more about the project

Year 2021:

Looking for a Socially Sustainable Society

LAB Innovations Annual Review 2021: "Towards a higher-quality participatory budgeting process through evaluation" (p. 12-).

The Growth of Gamification and its Utilization in Various Fields

#OmaLahti PB Second Time Round

Spreading Finnish PB Knowledge Through “Train the Trainer” Videos

Year 2020:

LAB Innovations Annual Review 2020: Piloting participatory budgeting “PB” – how to get the citizen perspective across? (p. 26).

Finnish PB Piloting Expands: Case Riihimäki

There is a Role for Everyone in the PB Puzzle

PB Requires Training

Lahti PB Pilot

Year 2019:

Empowering Participation in the Baltic Sea Region

The Many Faces of Participatory Budgeting

Smart Business Annual Review 2019: "Having a say! A University of Applied Sciences supporting regional development with municipal participatory budgeting" (LAMK University of Applied Sciences annual review in English). P. 146 -

The objective of EmPaci is to get more municipalities involved and mobilize different types of citizens by building municipal capacities, transnational clusters and municipality-citizen cooperation.
Project managers