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Doughnut Economics: Redefining Prosperity for the 21st Century

Doughnut Economics, a visionary economic framework introduced by Kate Raworth in her groundbreaking 2017 book, challenges conventional notions of prosperity in the 21st century. By aiming to establish a safe and just space for humanity within the boundaries of Earth’s social and ecological systems, Raworth presents an innovative approach to sustainable growth and societal well-being.

Doughnut EconomicsNeo-liberal Economics
Focuses on creating a safe and just space for humanity within the Earth’s social and ecological systems.Focuses on economic growth and individual wealth creation.
Uses the Doughnut Model as a framework for understanding and measuring progress.Uses GDP as a measure of progress.
Proposes four shifts: from GDP to GPI, from competition to cooperation, from extraction to regeneration, and from planetary boundaries to doughnut boundaries.Does not propose any major shifts in economic thinking.
Emphasizes the importance of social and environmental sustainability, equity, and cooperation.Emphasizes the importance of economic growth, individual liberty, and competition.
Doughnut Economics

Visualizing the Doughnut Model

Doughnut Economics

At the core of Doughnut Economics lies the aptly named Doughnut Model, an evocative visual representation of Raworth’s framework. The inner circle of the doughnut represents the fundamental social foundation that encompasses basic human needs such as food, water, shelter, healthcare, and education. Meanwhile, the outer circle signifies the environmental ceiling, signifying the limits of the Earth’s capacity to sustain human activity. Striving to find balance, the space between these two circles—the “doughnut hole”—represents the ideal zone where humanity can thrive.

Navigating the Planetary Boundaries

Integral to the Doughnut Model are the Nine Planetary Boundaries, a set of environmental thresholds that, if breached, could pose grave risks to the Earth’s ability to sustain life. These boundaries encompass critical aspects like climate change, biodiversity loss, and the preservation of the ozone layer.

Upholding the Seven Social Foundations

Complementing the planetary boundaries, the Doughnut Model draws strength from the Seven Social Foundations. These represent a vital set of social and economic conditions indispensable for human well-being, encompassing factors like access to nourishment, clean water, adequate shelter, quality healthcare, education, and a dignified standard of living.

The Four Imperative Shifts

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics underscores four transformative shifts, each critical for progressing towards a doughnut-shaped economy:

Embracing GPI over GDP: Rethinking our measures of economic progress, Raworth suggests moving away from the traditional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as it neglects the true social and environmental costs of economic activities. In its place, she advocates adopting the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), a comprehensive measure that accounts for these costs and reflects genuine well-being.
Fostering Cooperation over Competition: Present economic systems predominantly emphasize competition, leading to environmental degradation and socio-economic inequalities. Raworth calls for a shift towards cooperation, encouraging collective efforts to address global challenges collaboratively.
Prioritizing Regeneration over Extraction: Our current economic practices are often characterized by extraction, depleting Earth's resources faster than they can regenerate. Embracing the concept of regeneration entails sustainable resource use, ensuring the Earth's capacity to provide for future generations.
Striving for Doughnut Boundaries: While the existing economic model pushes us towards breaching planetary boundaries, Doughnut Economics advocates transitioning to Doughnut Boundaries. These boundaries define a safe and just space for humanity within the ecological limits of our planet.

Doughnut Economics in Action: Examples Across Industries

1. Agriculture

  • Regenerative Agriculture: A revolutionary farming approach that nurtures soil health and biodiversity while providing sustainable food production.
  • Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA): Empowering communities to invest in local farms by buying shares, enjoying fresh produce, and supporting farmers directly.
  • Permaculture: Designing agricultural systems that emulate the resilience and sustainability of natural ecosystems.

2. Energy

  • Renewable Energy: Harnessing the power of infinite resources like solar, wind, and hydroelectricity to meet our energy needs responsibly.
  • Energy Efficiency: Achieving more with less energy consumption, reducing waste, and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Demand-Side Management: Smartly managing energy demand to smooth out peak loads and promote a stable and sustainable energy grid.

3. Manufacturing

  • Circular Economy: Revolutionizing production by eliminating waste and pollution, creating a closed-loop system that prolongs the life of resources.
  • Sustainable Materials: Utilizing eco-friendly materials produced through sustainable practices, ensuring recyclability or compostability.
  • Product-Service Systems: Shifting business models towards leasing or renting products, encouraging resource sharing and reducing ownership-driven waste.

4. Finance

  • Sustainable Investing: Making conscious investment choices by supporting companies dedicated to environmental and social progress.
  • Impact Investing: Empowering positive change through investments in businesses actively contributing to a better world.
  • Microfinance: Enabling small-scale entrepreneurs in developing regions to access financial services, fostering economic growth and social development.

Incorporating Doughnut Economics principles into various industries is a transformative step towards achieving a balanced and sustainable world. By embracing these examples, businesses and individuals can play a crucial role in creating a brighter and more prosperous future for both humanity and our planet.

Remember, Doughnut Economics is not just a theoretical concept; it’s a practical framework that offers real-world solutions to the challenges we face. By weaving these examples into the fabric of our society, we can pave the way for a thriving and harmonious future.

Happy innovating and shaping a better world with Doughnut Economics!

Conclusion

Doughnut Economics represents a visionary and transformative economic framework that offers a roadmap towards a more sustainable and equitable future. Drawing from the Nine Planetary Boundaries and the Seven Social Foundations, and supported by the Four Imperative Shifts, this innovative model provides hope for shaping a world where both humanity and the planet can prosper harmoniously.

References

Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Here is an FAQ for your blog about doughnut economics:

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics

What is doughnut economics?

Doughnut economics is a new economic framework proposed by Kate Raworth in her 2017 book of the same name. The framework seeks to redefine what it means to be prosperous in the 21st century, by creating a safe and just space for humanity within the boundaries of the Earth’s social and ecological systems.

What are the two circles of the doughnut model?

The two circles of the doughnut model represent the two boundaries that we need to stay within in order to create a safe and just space for humanity. The inner circle represents the minimum social foundation that all people need to meet their basic needs for food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, and so on. The outer circle represents the environmental ceiling, beyond which we risk exceeding the Earth’s capacity to provide for us.

What are the nine planetary boundaries?

The nine planetary boundaries are a set of nine environmental thresholds that, if exceeded, could pose serious risks to the Earth’s ability to sustain life. The planetary boundaries include things like climate change, biodiversity loss, and the ozone layer.

What are the seven social foundations?

The seven social foundations are a set of seven social and economic conditions that are necessary for human well-being. The social foundations include things like access to food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, and a decent standard of living.

What are the four shifts?

Raworth proposes four shifts that are necessary to move towards a doughnut economy. These shifts are:

  1. From GDP to GPI: GDP (gross domestic product) is the traditional measure of economic growth. However, GDP does not take into account the social and environmental costs of economic activity. GPI (genuine progress indicator) is a more comprehensive measure of economic progress that does take these costs into account.
  2. From competition to cooperation: The current economic system is based on competition, which can lead to unsustainability and inequality. Raworth proposes a shift towards cooperation, which would allow us to work together to solve the challenges we face.
  3. From extraction to regeneration: The current economic system is based on extraction, which is taking resources from the Earth faster than they can be replenished. Raworth proposes a shift towards regeneration, which would involve using resources in a way that sustains the Earth’s ability to provide for us.
  4. From planetary boundaries to doughnut boundaries: The current economic system is pushing us towards the planetary boundaries. Raworth proposes a shift towards doughnut boundaries, which would create a safe and just space for humanity within the Earth’s social and ecological systems.

What are some criticisms of doughnut economics?

Some critics of doughnut economics argue that it is too idealistic and that it is not feasible to implement. Others argue that it is not clear how to measure progress within the doughnut framework.

What are some potential benefits of doughnut economics?

Some potential benefits of doughnut economics include:

  • Increased social and environmental sustainability
  • Reduced inequality
  • Increased cooperation and collaboration
  • A more just and equitable society

What are some ways to implement doughnut economics?

There are many ways to implement doughnut economics. Some examples include:

  • Investing in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture
  • Promoting fair trade and ethical consumption
  • Reducing our reliance on cars and other polluting forms of transportation
  • Supporting policies that protect the environment
  • Working to create a more just and equitable society

Is doughnut economics a realistic goal?

Whether or not doughnut economics is a realistic goal is a matter of debate. However, there are many people who believe that it is possible to create a more sustainable and equitable economic system. The doughnut framework provides a useful starting point for thinking about how we can achieve this goal.

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