Doughnut Economics is nothing short of a phenomenon, and it’s been exciting to develop our own Greenprints version of the Doughnut framework’s now iconic diagram.
When I first read Kate Raworth’s book in 2017, I was so excited that an economist – and a female economist at that – was building on the foundations of Steady State Economics (which Herman Daly first developed in the early 1970s) and Ecological Economics (which emerged and then diverged from Steady State Economics), and had created something so radical and yet so sensible: a way to connect economic thinking to Planetary Boundaries and our global ecological limits.
When organising the New Economy Network Australia’s (NENA) 2017 Conference, I sent an email to Kate and was able to invite her to speak via zoom at our conference. (You can watch her presentation here [link coming shortly]). That was before her ideas became the global phenomenon they are now – inviting Kate to speak at an event now requires much more than a friendly email 3 months before an event is scheduled to be held!
About Doughnut Economics
As most people now know, the ‘doughnut’ refers to the visual framework Kate created, when she drew the needs of humanity, inside the circular diagram that had been created by the team who developed the critically important concept of Planetary Boundaries. The hole in the middle of the ‘doughnut’ diagram represents the people that lack access to life’s essentials (healthcare, education, food etc). The ‘crust’ of the doughnut represents the ecological ceiling – our 9 Planetary Boundaries.
Kate developed the diagram and her core ideas in her 2012 Oxfam paper – ‘A Safe and Just Space for Humanity’, and she elaborated on the concepts in her 2017 book, mentioned above, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. In the past 12-18 months, the creation of the ‘Doughnut Economy Action Lab’ or DEAL, has translated Doughnut Economics into resources and tools so that thousands of people and hundreds of organisations have engaged with and used ‘the Doughnut.’
Kate’s framework invites people to re-frame our economy and our economic future, by changing our goals: to enable all people to live well, within the ecological ceiling of our planet. The Doughnut helps people rethink the myth of endless growth, and begin seeing economics for what it is: a tool to support humanity.
In Doughnut Economics, an economy is considered prosperous when all 12 social foundations are met, without overshooting any of the nine ecological ceilings.
About the ‘Greenprints Doughnut’
I developed the Greenprints approach in mid 2015/into early 2016, long before I read Kate Raworth’s excellent book. (You can read about the creation of Greenprints in my blog here, and visit the Greenprints website here).
For me, the key priority was not linked to any specific ‘discipline’, like economics or law. My burning interest was to understand what ecological health looks like in a unique place (ecosystem, catchment, bioregion) and how we can understand the key steps we need to take, to restore and protect nature’s regenerative capacity, enable plants, animals and other life forms to flourish, while ensuring humanity can be happy and healthy.
After reading Kate’s work, I became interested in connecting the Doughnut to the Greenprints approach. The Doughnut, in its original form at least, was articulated at such a high level of abstraction, that I was fascinated with what it would look like to ‘downscale’ the Doughnut to the Australian context. And at the same time, I was interested in how Greenprints could support the Doughnut framework.
For me, the Doughnut was missing two important elements: (i) how to articulate a vision for the future that includes more than just humans, and includes the rest of the Earth community and (ii) how to connect us to the things that matter most in our local place: the water we drink, the air we breathe, the plants and animals and other evolutionary companions that support our physical and mental health. As an Australian, I was especially interested in how ‘Doughnut Economics’ might connect with Indigenous wisdom and Caring for Country too.
So with help from some of my awesome graphic designers, we now have a Greenprints version of the Doughnut. We refer to the outer limits in the same way that Planetary Boundaries and Doughnut Economics do, ie the ‘ecological ceiling’. We keep the social foundations because they’re critically important to human wellbeing. But we’ve added the stuff that sustains us physically and spiritually: our connection to place, our bioregional foundations and Caring for Country.
I love our diagram, which shows people and some of our beloved plants, animals and insects. And I love that these images include a koala, kangaroo, tassie devil, platypus and emu. So often the big ideas that find their way to Australia have been created somewhere else and while they can be exciting and helpful, we must always find ways to connect them to our own reality, here in this continent.
I’ll be writing more about Doughnut Economics and the Greenprints approach in the coming months, as we explore and demonstrate to others, how the Doughnut fits within the ‘middle bit’ of our Greenprints approach.
Please visit our Greenprints website for more information – and get in touch anytime if you have any questions! email@example.com
2 thoughts on “Doughnut Economics and the Greenprints approach”
It sounds like a really exciting development – especially the incorporation of the more than human world aspects. I think there is a great need to do that translation to the Australian context – we live in such a unique and very ancient environment. Fantastic work, Michelle. Thanks for sharing this.
Hi Michelle – well done on this work. I suspect, however, you know what I will say.
Kate Raworth’s doughnut on balance has had value because it has increased awareness of planetary boundaries.
It is however deficient in very important ways beyond what you mention, particularly relative to the Steady State Economy model.
First, and this is extraordinary, Raworth is agnostic about endless economic growth being a problem.
Second, she does not adequately address population. In particular, if global population is too high, then there is NO doughnut – that is, there is no safe space within planetary boundaries in which human needs are adequately met.