Clarifying DEAL’s Policy for Consultancies

Can Doughnut Economics (DE) be undermined, co-opted and used for greenwashing? This is a real risk and concern.

In recent months some large profit-led consultancies have contacted DEAL with an interest in using the tools and concepts of DE with their clients. We have explained that this is not permitted under DEAL’s licensing policies and are glad to see that many of these consultancies are now respecting and following DEAL’s policies. Below is a broader explanation for the DEAL community.

In designing DEAL, we have embraced openness by putting the concepts and tools of Doughnut Economics in the commons. We invite changemakers to use the tools, adapt them to their context and put them into practice. At the same time, we must balance this openness with ensuring integrity in how the concepts are put into practice to safeguard their transformative potential. This is why, while embracing a creative commons licensing, we ask everyone to follow a set of principles and guidelines. These include specific policies that we have established to protect the integrity in areas where we see concepts most at risk of getting greenwashed or co-opted.

One area at risk in particular is where consultancies use DEAL tools as part of their professional services with local governments, companies, or other organisations. Our policy requires such consultancies to register as an Organisation in Action on DEAL’s platform to demonstrate their alignment with the vision of Doughnut Economics. For large consultancies (those with revenue exceeding €50m per year), this includes being registered with a mission-primacy legal form.

As a result of these criteria, large consultancies without mission-primacy legal forms (such as Deloitte, EY, KPMG and McKinsey) are not permitted to use DEAL’s concepts and tools with their clients. 

We believe that many mainstream consultancies have played a significant role in entrenching the degenerative and divisive dynamics of our contemporary economies. They would not be in a position to inspire and drive a sufficiently ambitious agenda of change whilst they continue to profit from helping clients to extract fossil fuels, avoid taxes, drive down wages and sell products that harm people and the living world. Such organisations first need to transform their own deep design - addressing their purpose, networks, governance, ownership and finance - to be in service of bringing about the regenerative and distributive future that the world requires.

It is also crucial to us that the tools and concepts of Doughnut Economics are spread through an internationally distributed network of values-aligned organisations and individuals, rather than dominated by large consultancies.

For these reasons, we believe that locally-rooted and values-aligned organisations are far better placed to support initiatives to put DE into action effectively in cities, businesses and beyond. This is why it matters immensely who can use these concepts and tools with their clients to drive broader transformation. This role must be filled by organisations designed and equipped to pursue the ambitious changes that Doughnut Economics calls for.

Anyone interested in finding organisations equipped to support Doughnut Economics can find such support at:

If you are interested in using the tools of Doughnut Economics with your clients, please follow the process described in detail here




    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!