Demsoc collaborated with the City of Vienna to develop the Vienna Climate Team project, a governance innovation initiative in climate and participation, based around the concept of Participatory Budgets. Demsoc led a stakeholder process and co-created the project, adapted to the needs and challenges of Vienna. The official start of the Vienna Climate Team is April 2022.
Demsoc worked with the Energy Department of the City of Vienna to develop the Vienna Climate Team, a process based on ‘participatory budgeting’, a decision-making method where citizens deliberate over the distribution of public resources.
The idea was created through the EIT C-KIC Deep Demonstrations project in 2020 and conceptualized and planned in 2021. The Vienna Climate Team concept was embedded in a stakeholder process in 2021 and followed by an advisory group to build up know-how and test out a new structure for collaboration within the city and citizens. The official start is in April 2022.
In the framework of the EIT Climate-KIC Deep Demonstrations 2020, we identified the Participatory Budget for Climate Action as a lever for achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation goals by broadly involving citizens in idea-generation and decision-making processes.
We planned the participatory budget Vienna Climate Team as a governance innovation project in participation and climate. The three main goals in Vienna are:
- Making Vienna Climate-fit: Ambitious and out-of-the-box ideas for more climate mitigation and adaptation measures in Vienna provided by all Viennese
- Socially just transition: actively reaching out to the broadest audience possible and including traditionally underrepresented groups
- Governance Innovation: cross-silo collaboration and co-creation across various administrative levels and sectors and strengthening a democratic culture between citizens and the city
Our jouney: from idea to implementation
A first compact concept for a Viennese Participatory Budget for Climate Action has been developed with stakeholders and EIT Climate-KIC Healthy Clean Cities Deep Demonstration Design Partners. Several tasks were undertaken by the City of Vienna together with Democratic Society:
- Analysis of the status quo of Participatory Budgeting in Vienna through expert interviews;
- Development of a state-of-the-art report on Participatory Budgets: analysis of eight Participatory Budgeting case studies. Due to the specific needs of Vienna, the focus was placed on process design, governance structures and budgetary law;
- Co-creation of a draft concept for a Participatory Budget for Climate Action in Vienna;
- Coordination and input sessions with other lead experiments and decision-makers in the city administration and political level.
The concept developed served as an argumentation paper for the post-election negotiations in autumn 2020, which resulted in a favourable decision by the new municipal government to implement a participatory budget process, strongly aligned with the Climate Budget in Vienna.
Building on the work conducted in EIT Climate-KIC Healthy Clean Cities Deep Demonstration 2020, the implementation plan of the Participatory Budget for Climate Action was finalized – which implied:
- Co-development of a detailed implementation plan in close coordination with city stakeholders
- Five Stakeholder Workshops with the aim to:
- include the needs, fears and wishes of all city and district stakeholders in the process design;
- build and strengthen the participation know-how of involved city departments in preparation for the implementation starting in 2022; and
- establish a joint working structure with the aim to strengthen cross-silo cooperation in the area of climate action and participation.
- An Advisory Group composed of civil society groups and multipliers, providing feedback to the concept and input to a wide range of questions.
Impact and Learning
- The Participatory Budget for Climate Action triggered financial support of 6 million euros in the pilot year for three pilot districts. The intent is that after the pilot year, the project will be assessed and scaled up according to additional plans.
- To implement the Participatory Budget, a total of four new positions were created in the municipality, focusing on enabling ambitious climate action, citizen participation and internal capacity building.
The two goals:
- Keeping a process simple enough to be inclusive for traditionally underrepresented groups
- Achieving ambitious and out-of-the-box climate ideas are difficult to balance but essential to any participatory process for a socially just climate discussion. Here, it is vital to get feedback and insights from many stakeholders, collect different viewpoints, carefully weigh options, and allocate enough resources for the process implementation.
It needs brave people – specifically, responsible city staff - to try something completely new with you, and trust is essential for a successful collaboration.