What do Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Time magazine and Joe Biden’s transition team have in common?
To be precise, they are all talking about ‘Doughnut Economics’, and in the case of Amsterdam and Brussels, their leaders have begun changing the way the city thinks about its people and the environment in an effort to address climate change and inequality.
Doughnut Economics? In 2017, Oxford academic Kate Raworth published a book called ‘Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist’, in which she suggests that the 20th Century economic model of continuous growth is, not only out of date, but inherently harmful both to people and the planet.
She argues that, in nature, growth is only desirable until the point of maturity. After that, continued growth becomes unhealthy and harmful – think cancer.
If you apply this logic to the recent statement that Oxfam made about the wealth of the ten richest people in the world rising by £400bn since the start of the pandemic, the world starts to look very sick indeed.
Raworth’s argument is that we need to redesign the system so that all people can thrive in a way which protects the planet that we all depend on.
Her idea of the doughnut looks like this:
The sweet spot for humanity lies between the social foundation below which nobody should fall and the ecological ceiling which is necessary to protect our Earth.
Unfortunately, reality looks like more like this
where many people globally live below the social foundation in every category and the ecological systems – on which we all depend for our survival – are under unsustainable pressure.
This short animation shows the stresses being placed on our planet:
As mentioned at the beginning, Kate Raworth’s theory and ideas have begun to attract the attention of policy makers around the world who want us to come out of the pandemic with an economic and ecological model which is balanced and fair.
Both the Pope and David Attenborough have endorsed the Doughnut in their recentbooks, with Attenborough describing it as ‘our compass for the journey’ to sustainability.
You can read more about this and the ways in which these theories are being put into practice in places as diverse as Amsterdam, Barbados and Preston on the Doughnut Economics Action Lab website.
The above animation is one of 7 which illustrate Kate Raworth’s ideas – you can find the rest on YouTube.
If you want to find out more, here is a longer TED talk by Kate Raworth explaining her ideas.
You could also buy the book – but please order it from Hive.co.uk or Bookshop.org , both of which support local independent booksellers, instead of Amazon – after all Jeff Bezos is the 2nd wealthiest person in the world – he doesn’t need your business!