The economic theory serving up food for thought this Donut Day

·2-min read
Doughnut economics is a visual framework for sustainable development shaped like the popular sugary snack.

What better day than Donut Day, Friday, June 4, to discover "Doughnut Economics." The economic theory may take its name from the famous sugary snack, but it has more to do with sustainability than with sprinkles.

Friday, June 4 is National Donut Day in the US. But this sweet treat -- a snack often associated with US police officers and the favorite food of Homer Simpson -- also lends its name to an economic theory. And while it may not be edible, it definitely offers some food for thought.

"Doughnut Economics"

Developed by the British economist Kate Raworth in her 2017 book "Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist" (Random House), the theory examines and reflects on the economy of tomorrow. Through seven principles, (changing the goal of the economy, seeing the big picture, nurturing human nature, getting savvy with systems, designing to distribute, creating to regenerate, being agnoistic about growth), Kate Raworth sets out a way of rethinking an economy that's narrow-minded and totally obsolete in the world we live in today.

The name of the snack comes into play when the theory is explained in a diagram, which takes a circular shape with a hole in the middle.

"Below the inner ring -- the social foundation -- lie critical human deprivations such as hunger and illiteracy. Beyond the outer ring -- the ecological ceiling-lies critical planetary degradation such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Between those two rings is the Doughnut itself, the space in which we can meet the needs of all within the means of the planet," writes Kate Raworth in her book.

From donut to reality

When it comes to concrete ways of implementing change, the economist told the Swiss newspaper, Le Temps: "Given the speed, scale and uncertainty of the change that awaits us in the years ahead, it would be absurd to try to determine now what measures, and what institutions, will be appropriate in the future."

In 2020, Amsterdam received much media attention, as the Dutch city opted to embrace the donut model as a basis for public policies, notably in the construction of sustainable social housing or collective gardens.

Louis Bolla

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