‘Doughnut economics’ theory adapted as a city-level planning approach

‘Doughnut economics’ theory adapted as a city-level planning approach

By Will Bugler

A new approach to urban planning and development has been launched today by the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Circle Economy, C40 Cities and Biomimicry 3.8. The tool, aimed at urban planners and municipal decision makers has been piloted in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam City Doughnut, takes the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action.

The ‘Doughnut economics’ framework for sustainable development, was developed by Oxford economist Dr Kate Raworth in the Oxfam paper ‘A Safe and Just Space for Humanity’ and featured in her best-selling book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. Shaped like a doughnut – combining the concept of planetary boundaries with the complementary concept of social boundaries. The framework was proposed to regard the performance of an economy by the extent to which the needs of people are met without overshooting Earth’s ecological ceiling.

Since that time Dr Raworth and others have been working on how to ‘downscale the doughnut’. The Amsterdam City Doughnut represents  a holistic approach to doing just that. Amsterdam was chosen in part as the city has already placed the Doughnut at the heart of its long-term vision and policymaking, and is home to the Amsterdam Donut Coalition, a network of inspiring change-makers who are already putting the Doughnut into practice in their city.

Applied at the scale of a city the downscaled approach starts by asking: “How can our city be a home to thriving people in a thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people and the health of the whole planet?”

To facilitate reflection on this question, the tool explores four interdependent topics, applied in this case to Amsterdam:

These questions translate to four ‘lenses’ of the City Doughnut, producing a new ‘portrait’ of the city from four interconnected perspectives. Drawing on the city’s current targets for the local lenses, as well as on the Sustainable Development Goals and the planetary boundaries for the global lenses, cities can compare desired outcomes for the city against its current performance [see the published tool for more].


About the Author