Aggiornamento: 12 nov 2021
For too much time we have thought about all environmental issues as “externalities”, something not related with our actions and our capitalistic economies. Probably a global pandemic like Covid-19 was needed to make us go beyond our blindness and realize that we are overusing our resources causing the climate breakdown and ecological collapse.
A change of mindset is necessary if we do not want to drown so the question is, what can be our lifebuoy?
Just thinking about the shape of a lifebuoy, it looks really like a donut and even if Donuts are perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the economy, that is exactly Kate Raworth’s model shape called Doughnut economy.
The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries envisions a world in which people and planet can thrive in balance, in other words, it offers a compass for guiding 21st century prosperity.
Just a brief explanation, the Doughnut consists of two concentric rings: the inner one represents social foundations derived from the UN SDGs and sets out the minimum standard of living for every human being. No one should be left in the hole in the middle of the Doughnut, falling short on the essentials of life. Wouldn’t you be the one in the hole , right? The outer one is the ecological ceiling that comprises nine planetary boundaries, drawn up by Earth-system scientists in order to identify Earth’s critical life-supporting systems and the global limits of pressure that they can handle. Between these two sets of boundaries lies a doughnut-shaped space, “the sweet spot”, where it is possible to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet , an ecologically safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.
The doughnut can seem abstract, and it has attracted criticism. For example some conservatives say the doughnut model can’t compete with capitalism’s proven ability to lift millions out of poverty.
But here it comes the DEAL!
This acronym stays for Doughnut Economics Action Lab, a Community interest Company founded in 2019 focused on turning ideas into action and on learning with and from others through experiments in co-creating a new economy.
Do you want a proof? Here it is. In April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19, Amsterdam’s city government announced it ‘s ambition is to bring all 872,000 residents inside the doughnut. Guided by Raworth’s organization, DEAL, the city is introducing massive infrastructure projects, employment schemes and new policies for government contracts in order to respond to this question:
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?
Thanks to this matrix you will have the perfect city portrait of a thriving city but what is Amsterdam actually doing?
If you are interested in all the technical details you can go check the official Kate Raworth’s website but I will give just two easy examples to explain clearly the new mindset of the people living there. Imagine that you are going to the groceries store in central Amsterdam, where you can find your favorite kind of goods, let’s say exactly the same ones that you have in Italy, but wait a minute even if you do not always care about prices , they are higher, why? Maybe taxes ,higher margin profit,position of the store, furniture contracts...? None of these, the DEAL of little extra cost ,called TRUE-PRICE INITIATIVE, is correlated to the product carbon footprint, the toll farming takes on the land and to fairly pay workers.Now that you are aware of the existence of these costs would you be willing to pay those extras? The second example is about Social distance learning , a really hot topic at this moment, right? Well, when the Netherlands went into lockdown in March, the city realized that thousands of residents didn’t have access to computers that would become increasingly necessary. Rather than buy new devices,which would have been expensive and eventually contribute to the rising problem of e-waste,the city arranged collections of old and broken laptops from residents who could spare them, hired a firm to refurbish them and distributed 3,500 of them to those in need. As you can acquire, it is not a big revolution but a small thing that was made in pure doughnut style.
WHAT IS THE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
Covid-19 could be the catalizator to make the transformation from the obsession of GDP growth to a thriving and balanced economy much quicker but the responsibility is on us! The change has to start from our daily routines and habits, every single action can make the difference, only in this way the domino effect to create sustainable and equity lifestyles will be possible. In the end, my last question is :
When it would come your turn to catch the ball, would you be able to throw it in the doughnut field?