The Doughnut Conference and Webinar 8th of September in Aarhus was organized by 5 NGOs from the Doughnut Group in Aarhus. As a starting point, the group had made a Portrait of the city: A social portrait and a portrait in relation to the planetary boundaries. The latter looked really bad: we exceed the limits to that extent.
This does not just apply in Aarhus. We are all, globally, destroying our beautiful, perfect planet Earth. And for every degree the globe warms, 1 billion people will lose their livelihood.
Gradually, everyone knows this: We are killing the earth, the animals, the oceans - and we have a small decade to adjust to sustainability.
The decisive factor behind that development is the economy and its constant pursuit of economic growth: More, bigger, faster, better, using more resources - our production & consumption and all the energy, transport and waste that goes with it.
A city like Aarhus is a school example: We are building concrete high-rises like never before, expanding the harbor, upgrading the airport, building motorways, etc. – it’s growth everywhere. The city council is investing in traditional economic growth, and it is making its mark on nature and climate.
That is why we must - must, we can no longer choose - align ourselves with a different economy that protects the climate, biodiversity and ecosystems. The doughnut economy is one such economy. An economy where we stay within the boundaries of the planet while meeting our basic needs for a good life.
The NGOs in Aarhus consider the discussion on Doughnut Economy and Sustainable Urban Development to be the most important discussion we can have in recent years: to switch to sustainability and turn development towards the disasters that are on the way.
Over the past year, we have written to the citizens of the city, given lectures and held panel debates with the members of the city council. And now this: A doughnut conference with Kate Raworth, Rob Shorter etc.
The IPCC's latest report and not least this summer's climate disasters tells us that the upcoming local elections in Denmark to November 2021 are the most important climate local elections we have ever had. And you could really feel it in the atmosphere at the conference: We were all excited.
Kate Raworth presented Doughnut Economics as an introduction to the conference: "What will it mean to make doughnut economics here in Aarhus?"
After Kate, Rob Shorter told about the Doughnut Economy as it is practiced and introduced in some of the world's many Doughnut cities - transition cities. Rob gave a number of concrete examples.
Deputy Mayor Marieke Van Doorninck from Amsterdam told how the city council, citizens and the business community jointly use the Doughnut model to make transitions in Amsterdam.
You can watch the entire conference here on our YouTube channel Donut Aarhus:
Please feel free to spread this link so that as many people as possible begin to understand how we can make a transition of something as crucial as our economy.
After the presentations, a panel of 6 politicians from Aarhus commented on the presentations on the Doughnut Economy: Mathilde Hjort (V), Sander Jensen (SF), Theresa Blegvad (K), Thure Hastrup (EL), Esben L. Kullberg (S), Metin Lindved Aydin (RV).
Their comments appear on the YouTube channel, and are surprisingly positive and welcoming. Actually all of them.
Finally, Niels Aagaard from the Doughnut Group presented a proposal for the further process towards Aarhus as a Doughnut City. A proposal to bring together citizens, NGOs, businesses, administration and politicians in joint processes that transform Aarhus into Donut City.
Magic in the air
There was a rare mood at the Doughnut Conference. A slightly magical atmosphere. Some of it may simply be due to the fact that i.a. Kate Raworth is such a terrific presenter and that Doughnut Economics is so obviously necessary and important.
Or that she conveys it so obvious and easy to understand so that everyone can understand ‘economics’, for a brief moment. There are no ‘scientific’ or outsmarting formulas. No suit, with data and statements that never take into account climate, nature, biodiversity and people.
Or it may be due to the fact that the presentations could tell that there are so many of the big cities around the world that work with Doughnut as a conversion model. And that what they do is so obvious.
But it was also as if something else was happening. As if the parties present left the usual political fights.
An almost friendly atmosphere arose. People listened to each other. It sounded like dialogues. It was as if the politicians could sense that here is something bigger than the usual fight.
Maybe it was just because it will soon be a municipal election (November the 16th), and it of course seems nice to listen and be positive. Especially when the narrator - Kate and others - so obviously has all the long ends and all the important points.
But it SOUNDed as if the House, the 130 participants and the politicians understood that this discussion about the production, consumption and economy of the future is actually the most important discussion we can have in these years at all: That we all - including the politicians - MUST take that discussion hammering seriously.
And then we're off. Wish us luck, because it will be needed. Now we are starting to bring together citizens, businesses, politicians, administration for involvement.
The best greetings
Niels Aagaard from Aarhus Doughnut
Chairman of the national organization The Common Good
+45 4018 9019