Icelandic–Romanian collaboration for participatory budgeting and for enhancing civic participation of young people in urban life and development
There is plenty to learn from Reykjavik about community involvement, however Cluj-Napoca from Romania is successful in addressing young people – The Cluj-Napoca, Romania based PONT Group met the coordinators of the participatory budgeting project of Reykjavik, as well as representatives of the City Hall and of youth organizations. The study visit was implemented in the framework of a participatory budgeting related cooperation project initiated by the PONT Group in close partnership with the Citizens Foundation from Reykjavik, Iceland.
PONT Group is an organization of young professionals centred around the idea of conceptual social innovation. PONT Group’s main activities fall in the areas of local and regional development with a special focus on youth, non-formal education, interdisciplinary collaboration and sustainable development. PONT Group was established in 2009 in Cluj-Napoca, the second largest city of Romania, the heart of Transylvania.
The NGO spent a week in Reykjavik in order to learn more about the city’s participatory budgeting processes as PONT Group coordinates Romania’s first participatory budgeting project for youth called COM’ON Cluj-Napoca, as in 2015 Cluj-Napoca was the European Youth Capital. Moreover, the groundwork for COM’ON Romania and COM’ON Europe and platforms of participatory budgeting processes for young people had been laid down. The local partner of the Romanian NGO is Citizens Foundation.
Watch a short video about COM’ON Cluj-Napoca here: https://youtu.be/J4H-ySQXwNI
One of the most important outcomes of the project is the in-depth understanding of how Icelandic models of participation can provide an organic contribution in developing and sustaining large scale civic participatory processes at European level addressing urban communities, in a geopolitical context which needs more initiatives that involve young people directly in decision making on aspects of urban development which affect them directly.
Future plans: Reykjavik – Cluj-Napoca (Iceland–Romania) collaboration
During the study visit the partners agreed on consolidating their collaboration and on developing the participatory budgeting initiative on a European level as well. Although an Icelandic-Romanian collaboration sounds unusual, the two organizations would like to prove that European countries can work together on reaching community goals.
The main aim of the collaboration between PONT Group and Citizens Foundation is to initiate participatory mechanisms on a European, national and local level as there is a growing demand for these processes.
With the Icelandic partners, in partnership with the Network of European Youth Capitals and the European Youth Forum, with the support of European and EEA grants, COM’ON Cluj-Napoca can be scaled to a European level. So far seven past and future European Youth Capitals have pledged to the collaboration for COM’ON Europe. Depending on the financial mechanisms, the European platform could be elaborated in 2017. The Icelandic partner will be helping with their expertise in creating the platform.
PONT Group and Citizens Foundation have laid down the groundwork of their strategic partnership during the study visit. During the upcoming two months the two partners will be working on practical solutions to implement future projects. Moreover, they will be analysing how they could both use the experience of Reykjavik and Cluj-Napoca on a local level in order to consolidate and develop the participatory processes.
The study visit is supported by EEA grants 2009-2014, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, through the Romanian NGO Fund.