In June of 2015, Rotterdam introduced the Dutch version of the British Right to Challenge, bringing citizens an innovative form of participation. Local communities are given the right to challenge the municipality by taking the initiative when it comes to how local public services are run if they feel that they can do better.
Leveraging knowledge and talents
The people of Rotterdam know what goes on in their neighbourhoods and what local residents need. Right to Challenge enables them to leverage their knowledge and talents for the benefit of the community and the city. They can take over the management of a playground or a neighbourhood centre, for example, or take collective responsibility for the community landscaping maintenance or refuse collection.
An important advantage of Right to Challenge is that the initiative to take over local public services or municipal tasks will not cost more than the currently available budget. Moreover, the idea is that the challenges should add value to the community.
In the Schepenstraat, local landscape architects have used the Right to Challenge to set out to work on a development plan – and the participation in the context of this plan. An additional advantage is the fact that the initiative strengthens local bonds. For instance, grocery shopping services and child-minding services have been set up collectively at street level.
Commitment, knowledge, and ideas
The challenges help to increase the commitment of the people of Rotterdam to their communities, to leverage the knowledge of local residents, and to create room for innovative ideas. The city will become more resilient as a result.
The challenges set the municipal organization in motion to align the policy more closely to local needs and the perception of citizens. The municipality makes funds and knowledge available for community initiatives. Furthermore, local residents are actively involved in discussions on municipal tasks and public services.