CEPA strategy guidance note on Participatory budgeting

This note was prepared by Giovanni Allegretti, Centre for Social Studies at Coimbra University, Portugal taking as a starting point a draft prepared by Ran Kim of UN DESA.


The United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) has developed a set of principles of effective governance for sustainable development. The essential purpose of these voluntary principles is to provide interested countries with practical, expert guidance on a broad range of governance challenges associated with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. CEPA has identified 62 commonly used strategies to assist with the operationalization of these principles. This guidance note addresses participatory budgeting, which is associated with the principle of participation and can contribute to strengthening the inclusiveness of institutions. It is part of a series of notes prepared by renowned experts under the overall direction of the CEPA Secretariat in the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

In reading this guidance note, individuals in government ministries and agencies who are less familiar with the topic will be able to understand the fundamentals. Those who have perhaps taken initial steps in this area with limited follow-through or impact will be able to identify how to adjust elements of their practice to achieve better results and to better embed and institutionalize the strategy in their organizations. Those who are more advanced in participatory budgeting will be able to recognize the practices which contribute to its success.

Participatory budgeting (PB) broadly refers to the many ways in which the general public is able to interact directly with government in the design and implementation of budgetary and fiscal policy. Participatory budgeting is mainly applied in cities and local contexts: indeed, it can be described as a process that helps to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the community level. The mutual learning among different actors that it entails, has great potential to help stakeholders understand the complexity of governing intertwined policy areas and to support public officials in better understanding the diverse needs of society.