Resilient cities #3: Developing new financing approaches
The budget cuts recently experienced by European cities have led local players to get creative also in terms of funding solutions. Local authorities themselves are proving innovative.
Joint procurement between cities is on a roll. End of March, on the occasion of
a pre-COP21 meeting in Paris, about thirty mayors from European capitals
and big cities adopted a declaration aiming at engaging in joint public procurement (notably for clean vehicles and dump trucks). Two other cities in France, Brest and Dijon*, opted for joint procurement when they decided to create their tram systems. This allowed the municipalities to obtain a 25% reduction when purchasing their trams: they saved almost €36 million!
More and more cities are also offering citizens the possibility to have a say on their city’s budget. “Participatory budgeting” already exists in Paris. Citizens can submit their project ideas for their neighbourhood or the whole city. Co-development meetings are organised throughout the application period. Then, city departments evaluate projects according to criteria such as general interest, the city’s competences and the investment budget. Parisians can thus decide on the allocation of up to 5% of their city’s total investment budget – half a billion euros!
The recently-launched Citizenergy initiative, a European crowdfunding platform for renewable energy, aims to boost citizen engagement and investment in renewable energy. The crowdfunding platforms Lumo (France), Abundance (UK) and Greencrowding (Germany) have already joined. The overall objective is to allow citizens to (financially) get involved in local projects. That does not mean local authorities should not get on board too.
According to a report by IDDRI, citizens’ initiatives can be reinforced by a local authority’s support, as it increases confidence and guarantees continuity, possibly helps with the financial development, ensures the link with local policies.