Doughnut Economics

Planetary Boundaries and Social Needs
An economics think tank that promotes a holistic understanding of the economy along social and environmental axes in order to prioritise climate justice


Conventional economic theory and practice in the past have been unfit, are presently unfit, and will be unfit in the future because they ignore planetary boundaries, neglect social needs, and are confined to retrograde ideas of financial growth and privatised profiteering.


In light of these failings, the British economist Kate Raworth devised a theory called Doughnut Economics.1For more, see ‘Doughnut | Kate Raworth’ <> [accessed 10 July 2022].2Kate Raworth. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (London: Penguin, 2017).Raworth later developed the ideas with the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), and helped several cities around the world implement her policies in their municipal governance.

Doughnut Economics promotes an ecological-intersectional model for understanding the economy through coordinates such as quality of air or water, housing or education, and not (or not only) money. DEAL has worked with municipal authorities in Amsterdam to test its economic models in practice, for example, working with the city’s transportation department to overhaul public transit services. While the Netherlands might be historically more accustomed to public utilities, shared resources and other aspects favoured by Doughnut Economics than developing nations who suffer the aftermath of colonialism in terms of debt dependency, for example, the scheme does promise an effective transition to social and environmentally just governance. The more cities that implement a holistic social and environmental approach and implement it successfully, the more climate equity can spread worldwide. As initiatives such as C40 Cities demonstrate, municipal governance can often achieve a speed and radicalism in systemic change that is harder to implement on a larger scale of national policy.

Based on simple, graspable ideas and language, Doughnut Economics shares ideas that affect us all. Describing economic success and growth through diverse social and environmental metrics such as access to education, greenspace, and so forth, helps make Doughnut Economics tangible and relevant. Such metrics are far more graspable than GDP, and directly affect both people and the planet.

As an approach to understanding how societies and the environment are best nourished within a safe and prosperous sphere of social and ecological wellbeing (the doughnut’s ring), the scheme can and has been implemented in a number of fields beyond economics and governance. Businesses, for example, and neighbourhood groups such as Civic Square’s Neighbourhood Economics Lab in Birmingham, England, use Doughnut Economics as a strategy to ensure workers and citizens have access to housing, healthcare, and education, while waste and pollution are reduced and materials recycled.


  • 1
    For more, see ‘Doughnut | Kate Raworth’ <> [accessed 10 July 2022].
  • 2
    Kate Raworth. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (London: Penguin, 2017).