Grenoble, a laboratory for citizen participation

The city that turns into an urban laboratory for the democratic transition


Publication date

March 18, 2019

Since 2014, the mayor of Grenoble and his team have been working on transforming the city into a true “transition city”, in the most democratic way possible. Grenoble works as an urban laboratory and is implementing a slew of initiatives related to democratic transition.

In the face of energy and climate challenges, the city of Grenoble is implementing various tools aimed at kick-starting the environmental transition. Several ideas are currently being tested.

Supporting citizen initiatives

To this end, the city has set up three main tools:

  • Participatory budget: a system allowing Grenoble residents to decide on the allocation of part of the city’s investment budget to projects proposed by citizens. The projects are voted on by residents and evaluated by the city government, and the projects which get the most votes are implemented. The participatory budget amounts to 800,000€/year.
  • Independent citizen councils: Groups of citizens composed of up to 20 volunteers and 20 randomly selected residents. Their objective is to initiate economic projects, co-host public debate, and drive solidary actions. They can submit open questions to the city government at city council meetings.
  • Citizen petitioning and voting: The ability for Grenoble residents to petition the City Council. If a petition gathers over 2.000 signatures, it must be debated upon. Any petition that is dismissed by the Mayor must be brought to the attention of citizens during a citizen vote held at least once a year. If such a petition receives over 20,000 votes, it must be implemented.

Involving citizens in municipal initiatives

In addition to the support for local initiatives, the city of Grenoble is also trying to involve the territory’s various players in its own initiatives. In 2016, it launched a platform called “Grenoble, ville de demain” (Grenoble, city of tomorrow).

This platform is evidence of a real will to test new methods and develop new practices. With this goal in mind, the smaller scale ensures better control over the actions and a certain flexibility.

You can learn about more actions involving Grenoble citizens, and find detailed information about the initiatives undertaken in Cadiz, Maastricht and other cities, in the study “Fabrique de transition démocratique : implication des citoyens dans la transition énergétique en Europe” (in French).