Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

5 Feb 2021

Living within the donut

Posted by Michael Keating

There is the green economy, the circular economy and now the donut economy. It’s one more idea on how to rethink and reshape a global economy that is both overusing the environment and making some super rich while hundreds of million suffer deprivation of essential needs. British economist Kate Raworth came up with the term “donut economics.” She combined the idea of ecological planetary boundaries we cannot safely exceed as an outer ring on an image with the unmet needs of many people forming a gaping hole in the middle. Raworth said that between the extremes of environmental overuse and human privation was a “safe and just space for humanity” which she called the donut.

The doughnut of social and planetary boundaries

Her ideas echo those of the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, often called the Brundtland report after its chair, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. This global group of experts pointed out that economic development by the rich countries was running down the environment, but poor countries needed more economic growth to lift themselves out of misery. The timing seems good for a new way of saying what we have known for a long time. COVID-19, which has caused not only a health but an economic and social crisis, has stimulated interest in sustainability. More people are talking about rebuilding shattered economies as green economies. Raworth runs the Donut Economics Action Lab, to inspire and support people. Her group has attracted attention from a number of cities scattered around the world, ranging from Copenhagen to Nanaimo, BC, to Dunedin, New Zealand.

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