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AAP kick-starts participatory budgeting engine: Here’s all you need to know

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Amidst much pomp and frenzy, the maiden ‘participatory budget’, a first of its kind in the country has been kick-started by the Aam Aadmi Party government today.

The historical development took place at a function attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s Patparganj constituency.

The residents, who were given sheets of white paper and pens by Civil Defence volunteers, were asked by Sisodia to pen down their suggestions and grievances “wisely” before handing them back to the volunteers.

“Decisions taken inside closed doors reek of fraud whereas events such as this, where decisions are being taken publicly, are credible… there are countries where even laws are made in this way,” said Sisodia, who conducted the exercise on Sunday.

“Delhi government every year has around Rs. 40,000 crore but, after various expenses, around Rs. 16,000 crore is left for allocation to different departmental plans.
“A portion of that money will be spent for the development of around 10-11 constituencies this time through this exercise. If successful, it will be replicated in all the 70 constituencies (of Delhi),” he said.

The meeting organised for the residents of West Vinod Nagar’s E-block involved top Delhi government officials, including Chief Secretary K.K. Sharma, DM (East) Kunal and the AAP MLAs of the 11 constituencies that are being covered at the launch of the exercise.

Speaking at the landmark event, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Democracy today has turned into a five-year exercise. After elections, leaders turn into gods and misuse public funds.

“Villages have shown the change in direction in this regard. They say, ‘Dilli, Mumbai mai humari sarkar, humari mohalle mai hum sarkar’ (In Delhi and Mumbai our government, but in our area we are the government),” Mr. Kejriwal told the gathering.

“If the experiment is successful, then the way democracy is practised in the country will change. Delhi will lead the country”, he added.

Here is all you need to know about Participatory Budgeting:

What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a different way to manage public money, and to engage people in government. It is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It enables taxpayers to work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives.

When was the model started and Where has it been applied?

The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world. Most of these are at the city level, for the municipal budget.

PB has also been used for counties, states, housing authorities, schools and school systems, universities, coalitions, and other public agencies.

How does Participatory Budgeting work?

Participatory budgeting generally involves several basic steps:

  • Community members identify spending priorities and select budget delegates

  • Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals, with help from experts

  • Community members vote on which proposals to fund

  • The city or institution implements the top proposals

How successful has it been?

A comprehensive case study of eight municipalities in Brazil analyzing the successes and failures of participatory budgeting has suggested that it often results in more equitable public spending, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

Let’s see how the AAP experiment with Participatory Budgeting pans out.

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Brazil’s Carbon Emissions Stable as Clean Energy Sources Use ‘Offsets’ Deforestation

In contrast, emissions from the destruction of forests rose 3.6% to 845 million tons of CO2e, leading that source to increase its share

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Brazil, Carbon Emissions, Energy
FILE - The Amazon rainforest (L), bordered by deforested land prepared for the planting of soybeans, is pictured in this aerial photo taken over Mato Grosso state in western Brazil, Oct. 4, 2015. VOA

Brazil’s carbon emissions have remained stable despite an increase in deforestation because they were offset by a larger use of clean energy sources such as ethanol and wind power, a report said on Tuesday.

Brazilian emissions of gases blamed for global warming reached 1.939 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2018, 0.3% more than seen in 2017, according to SEEG, the most comprehensive study on the topic in the country.

Emissions from the energy sector fell 5% last year when compared to the previous year to 407 million tons of CO2e as renewable power continues to increase its share in the energy mix.

In contrast, emissions from the destruction of forests rose 3.6% to 845 million tons of CO2e, leading that source to increase its share in total Brazilian emissions to 44%, more than the combined participation of the industrial and energy sectors.

Brazil, Carbon Emissions, Energy
Brazilian emissions of gases blamed for global warming reached 1.939 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2018, 0.3% more than seen in 2017, according to SEEG. Pixabay

Clean energy contribution, however, is unlikely to avoid a larger carbon dioxide increase for 2019, as deforestation sharply increased this year to the highest level in a decade.

And while emissions were stable, there is no compensation for the losses to wildlife as hundreds of species are extinguished as fires rage.

The data places Brazil as number 7 in the ranking of the world’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, which is led by China followed by the United States and the European Union.

“Brazil should be in a much better position. Its energy matrix is getting even cleaner than it was. If it stopped deforestation, its emissions would be a third of that,” said Tasso Azevedo, the study’s coordinator.

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“There will be a significant increase,” said Ane Alencar, science director at Ipam, the organization collaborating with data on land use changes for the SEEG study.

Deforestation leads to some curious findings. Unlikely other countries where states with higher concentration of industries lead emissions numbers, in Brazil that ranking is led by Pará and Mato Grosso states, for example, countries partly located in the Amazon, with industrialized Sao Paulo state in a distant fourth place.

Livestock activity contributed to those states’ increase in emissions numbers, besides deforestation.

Brazil, Carbon Emissions, Energy
Emissions from the energy sector fell 5% last year when compared to the previous year to 407 million tons of CO2e as renewable power continues to increase its share in the energy mix. Pixabay

“There is a large difference in the origin of emissions in Brazil when compared to most countries,” said Ricardo Abramovay, an economist at the University of Sao Paulo.

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“While in countries such as United States and Japan a change to a society with less emissions will require large investments to modify production models and consumption habits, in Brazil we only need to cut deforestation, a very small investment,” he said. (VOA)