According to British economist and author of Doughnut Economics Kate Raworth, it’s time for a new economic model: one that meets our basic needs as humans and respects the ecological boundaries of our planet.
Can you explain the meaning of the ‘Doughnut’ you describe in your book?
The ‘Doughnut’ is a picture, a compass for 21st-century prosperity and an alternative vision of the economy. Imagine a doughnut with a hole in the middle. In the hole is a place where people are left falling short on the essentials of life and don’t have the resources to meet their basic needs, such as food, water, housing, healthcare, education and energy. We want to get everybody out of the hole, into the doughnut itself, which is the safe and just space for humanity where all our basic needs are met.
At the same time, we cannot allow our collective use of Earth’s resources to overshoot the outer-ring of the doughnut, which I call the ecological ceiling. Beyond this outer ring lies planetary degradation, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. In essence, the doughnut is the space in which we can meet the needs of all while not exploiting the planet. And it has a very different shape from that of progress in the last century.
What is the shape of progress? How does it look?
We have been told for decades that progress is an ever-rising line of growth measured in national income, or gross domestic product (GDP). So it increases forever. But actually, nothing healthy grows forever. Growth is a wonderful phase of life, but whether it’s your children’s feet or an apple tree, things grow until they become mature. We design our economies as if they should continue to grow, but economies can’t keep growing forever.
I think we need to reimagine that and come up with a new vision. So the doughnut, rather than to see progress as never-ending growth, invites us to see progress as balance, or as coming back into balance. That is also much closer to the health of our own bodies. We all understand that our health lies in balance. In having enough food but not too much, in having enough exercise but not too much, enough water, enough oxygen. It’s about creating and maintaining a balance of life so that we can thrive rather than tipping ourselves out of balance.
- Read the full interview with Kate Raworth in Issue 28.
- Find out more about Kate’s book Doughnut economics on her website.
Text Sjoukje van de Kolk Illustration Valesca van Waveren