President of Ireland backs Doughnut Economics

Michael D. Higgins calls for making the Doughnut humanity's overriding goal

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has described living in the Doughnut, between social and planetary boundaries, as humanity's overriding goal. This is the first time that a head of state has made such a public declaration.

In a speech entitled 'Climate Action and the Role of Engineers', given on 21 October 2020 at the Engineers Ireland annual conference, he argued that 'a radical paradigm shift is required in the connection between ecology, economics and society.' 

During his 30 minute speech he cited Doughnut Economics at length, without flinching from its challenging implications for the future of GDP: 

How can we achieve a fair distribution of wellbeing while staying within environmental limits? Our overriding goal must be to remain within what Kate Raworth has described, “a safe and just space for humanity”. This means we can improve human wellbeing on a global level while simultaneously preserving the preconditions for a safe, healthy planet and the future wellbeing of its peoples.

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics captures the essence of this new paradigm: 'a social foundation of wellbeing that no one should fall below, and an ecological ceiling of planetary pressure that we should not go beyond. Between the two lies a safe and just space for all'.

A key element of Raworth’s argument relates to economic growth: if GDP is to continue growing in high-income countries, its associated resource use must fall not just relatively or absolutely, but “sufficiently absolutely” to stay within planetary boundaries. Failure to achieve this level of resource decoupling implies that de-growth remains the only sustainable strategy for planetary survival.

The President of Ireland's full speech is available online as text and as a video: his comments on Doughnut Economics are made between 17.30mins and 20.30mins.

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