Why does a Doughnut create a Better Future?

No, I am not talking about adding more sugar and carbs to your life. The Corona lockdown was bad enough for our physical shape. However, terrible it was -- and still is in many ways, it was had a positive effect on the state of our natural world.

Photo by Heather Ford (Unsplash)

There are many examples of how the natural world has profited from our temporary absence. Just look up at the sky, it is bright blue because there are no airplanes. From dolphins in the Ganges river to clear waters flowing through the canals of Venice to more turtles breeding on beaches otherwise overrun by tourists. Unfortunately, the environmental gains may be shorter-lived than the pounds some of us put on during this time unless we do something different. This is where the doughnut economy comes in.

The doughnut economy is a model developed by British economist Kate Raworth from Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute.

The idea is simple. Once we can wind ourselves away from an unsustainable constant economic growth, we can move toward a balanced system that takes into account the actual needs of people and the planet. Our current model is this: We buy things we don't need with money we don't have but can pay back later with interest. In the long run, we will actually fare much better on a healthy planet. We can balance our needs and wants with the protection of our natural world and respect for the finite and limited resources we are provided with.

In the middle of the doughnut is all the good stuff that we have too little of, like affordable housing, livable cities, clean air, gender-equality, fair and equitable trade, healthy food, biodiversity, clean, affordable energy, and all the other wonderful goals outlined in the UN's sustainable development goals.

On the outside of the ring is the bad stuff, that we have too much off, like pollution, CO2 and plastic trash, overcrowded unaffordable cities, dying species, and natural habitats and over-consumption.

A robust, sustainable economy would actually be somewhere in the middle, in the soft and squishy part of the doughnut.

Raworth's 2017 bestselling book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, has been hailed as a "breakthrough alternative to growth economics."

Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is one city that wants to re-open post COVID-19 lockdown following the doughnut economy model. Kate Raworth has helped devise a plan on how the city will rebuild its economy. The plan is laid out in the diagram below.

The Amsterdam city portrait was created by Doughnut Economics Action Lab, in collaboration with Biomimicry 3.8, Circle Economy, and C40. Photo: Doughnut Economics Action Lab

Cities are where most of the sustainable change can be implemented and felt first. The more thriving cities we can create, the faster we can turn a sick planet into a healthy one.

The aim of economic activity should be to meet the core needs of all people but within the means of the planet. The "doughnut" is a simple visual to let us imagine what this could mean in practice.

COVID-19 had a tragic impact on too many lives that were either lost or impacted severely by the economic devastation that the lockdown caused. But it has also given us a glimpse of what a carbon-free future could feel like. Now it is up to us to make the positive changes stick while putting our lives back together.

Watch the entire video series about the Doughnut Economics on YouTube

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