Doughnut Economics

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics is an important part of the inspiration for setting up One Planet Consulting. But if you’re not familiar with the concept, this blog will give you a short and simple overview.

The doughnut

In its simplest form the doughnut offers a framework to guide your thinking and action; if, after measuring your activity, you are in the body of the doughnut you are doing great things but if you are outside of that by either over using planetary resources or by failing to provide a social foundation (or even both) then you’ve got work to do.

The outer ring of the doughnut is the ecological ceiling (the planetary boundary) and can be thought of as the maximum level at which our earth’s resources can be used without them degrading. Sadly at a planetary level we are miles over this boundary meeting the overshoot point in late July (Earth Overshoot Day – LINK to Post). Every day thereafter we are eroding the core capital of the Earth. The inner ring is the social foundation and can be thought of as the basic needs of society. Sadly we are falling short on these too across our planet.

The ceiling and foundation elements have been further developed and some have been quanitifed.

This diagram brings it to life; at a global level we are over using our resources, failing to provide a social foundation and can’t/haven’t even measured some yet.

A bit more detail

The environmental ceiling consists of nine planetary boundaries, as set out by Rockstrom et al, beyond which lie unacceptable environmental degradation and potential tipping points in Earth systems. The twelve dimensions of the social foundation are derived from internationally agreed minimum social standards, as identified by the world’s governments in the Sustainable Development Goals (LINK to post) in 2015. Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.

The model is simple enough but using it is trickier. One of the biggest hurdles is measurement is much trickier than it sounds and so whether done at national, regional or city level knowing if you are overusing resources or failing to provide the foundation may not be very clear.

That being said, some including Amsterdam have embraced this and are using it to chart their way forward including their recovery from COVID-19.

If you want to get a deeper insight, invest 18 minutes watching this video of Kate speaking to the RSA.

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