Empowerment Methods

Cities delegate decision-making power, budgets or control over services to residents. A wide range of formats exist such as binding votes, access to funds, oversight control, access to information , representation on committees.

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Empowerment can be a tool to build trust, tackle capacity problems in delivering critical services, create more resilience by building community capacity and secure better design and planning decisions.

Formats are generally dependent on the purpose to be achieved.


The Hague (population 544,000) is empowering citizens through a budget of €1.4 million ($1.5 million) to its sustainability scheme, from which grants of up to €8,000 are offered to citizens with ideas for improving the environment or reducing energy and emissions in their neighbourhood. 

Grants are combined with support from city staff to help neighbours become a sustainable association or foundation with a feasible idea.

City staff are available even on weekends to provide technical assistance, remove bureaucratic barriers and connect to businesses to get ideas off the ground.

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Community organizing

Provide resources and support to communities to rally around interests and needs. This is an investment into civic infrastructure and you cannot expect activities to be always supportive your policies.

Define the purpose

What need is the empowerment serving and is this clearly understood and shared by all sides?

The scale

Describe at what scale empowerment needs to happen to be fit for purpose. Don’t be afraid to go big if that’s what is right. List the resources that will fall into the scope.

The measures

What format will empowerment take and what are the steps to build trust as you work toward full scale?

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