About Doughnut Economics

Meet the Doughnut and the concepts at the heart of Doughnut Economics.


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    The Doughnut offers a vision of what it means for humanity to thrive in the 21st century - and Doughnut Economics explores the mindset and ways of thinking needed to get us there.

    First published in 2012 in an Oxfam report by Kate Raworth, the concept of the Doughnut rapidly gained traction internationally, from the Pope and the UN General Assembly to Extinction Rebellion.

    Kate's 2017 book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist,  further explored the economic thinking needed to bring humanity into the Doughnut, drawing together insights from diverse economic perspectives in a way that everyone can understand.

    This 2018 TED talk gives a summary of the book's core messages, and you can read Chapter One here.

    Editions of Doughnut Economics in many languages.

    The book soon became an international bestseller and has now been published in over 20 languages, including in English (UK and US), Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Complex Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.


    The Doughnut's holistic scope and visual simplicity, coupled with its scientific grounding, has turned it into a convening space for big conversations about reimagining and remaking the future. It is now being discussed, debated and put into practice in education and in communities, in business and in government, in towns, cities and nations worldwide.

    The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.

    What is the Doughnut?

    Think of it as a compass for human prosperity in the 21st century, with the aim of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet.

    The Doughnut consists of two concentric rings: a social foundation, to ensure that no one is left falling short on life’s essentials, and an ecological ceiling, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth's life-supporting systems. Between these two sets of boundaries lies a doughnut-shaped space that is both ecologically safe and socially just: a space in which humanity can thrive.

    The Doughnut is the core concept at the heart of Doughnut Economics. 

    Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist.

    What is Doughnut Economics?

    If the 21st century goal is to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet - in other words, get into the Doughnut - then how can humanity get there? Not with last century's economic thinking.

    Doughnut Economics proposes an economic mindset that's fit for our times. It's not a set of policies and institutions, but rather a way of thinking to bring about the regenerative and distributive dynamics that this century calls for. Drawing on insights from diverse schools of economic thought - including ecological, feminist, institutional, behavioural and complexity economics - it sets out seven ways to think like a 21st century economist in order to transform economies, local to global.

    The starting point of Doughnut Economics is to change the goal from endless GDP growth to thriving in the Doughnut. At the same time, see the big picture by recognising that the economy is embedded within, and dependent upon, society and the living world. Doughnut Economics recognises that human behaviour can be nurtured to be cooperative and caring, just as it can be competitive and individualistic.

    It also recognises that economies, societies, and the rest of the living world, are complex, interdependent systems that are best understood through the lens of systems thinking. And it calls for turning today's degenerative economies into regenerative ones, and divisive economies into far more distributive ones. Lastly, Doughnut Economics recognises that growth may be a healthy phase of life, but nothing grows forever: things that succeed do so by growing until it is time to grow up and thrive instead.

    Dive deeper into the seven ways to think like a 21st century economist with our series of 90-second animations

    The five layers of organisational design.

    Why design matters

    What would make it possible for an organisation to become regenerative and distributive so that it helps bring humanity into the Doughnut? DEAL has run workshops with enterprises, city departments, foundations, and other kinds of organisations that want to explore this question, and the implications are transformational.

    At the heart of these workshops is a focus on design: not the design of their products and services, or even of their office buildings, but the design of the organisation itself. As described by Marjorie Kelly, a leading theorist in next-generation enterprise design, there are five key layers of design that powerfully shape what an organisation can do and be in the world:

    Purpose. Networks. Governance. Ownership. Finance.

    Together these five aspects of organisational design profoundly shape any organisation's ability to become regenerative and distributive by design, and so help bring humanity into the Doughnut. 

    Doughnut Principles of Practice

    To ensure the integrity of the ideas of Doughnut Economics, we ask that the following principles are followed by any initiative that is working to put the ideas of Doughnut Economics into practice.
    Embrace the 21st Century Goal
    Aim to meet the needs of all people within the means of the planet. Seek to align your organisation's purpose, networks, governance, owner-ship and finance with this goal.
    See the big picture
    Recognise the potential roles of the household, the commons, the market and the state – and their many synergies – in transforming economies. Ensure that finance serves the work rather than drives it.
    Nurture human nature
    Promote diversity, participation, collaboration and reciprocity. Strengthen community networks and work with a spirit of high trust. Care for the wellbeing of the team.
    Think in systems
    Experiment, learn, adapt, evolve and aim for continuous improvement. Be alert to dynamic effects, feedback loops and tipping points.
    Be distributive
    Work in the spirit of open design and share the value created with all who co-created it. Be aware of power and seek to redistribute it to improve equity amongst stakeholders.
    Be regenerative
    Aim to work with and within the cycles of the living world. Be a sharer, repairer, regenerator, steward. Reduce travel, minimize flights, be climate and energy smart.
    Aim to thrive rather than to grow
    Don’t let growth become a goal in itself. Know when to let the work spread out via others rather than scale up in size.
    Be strategic in practice
    Go where the energy is - but always ask whose voice is left out. Balance openness with integrity, so that the work spreads without capture. Share back learning and innovation to unleash the power of peer-to-peer inspiration.
    About Doughnut Economics

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