Barcelona has embarked on a remarkable journey towards sustainability using the principles of Doughnut Economics. This transformative process has encompassed a series of innovative and insightful workshops and debates, inviting participation from a diverse array of city stakeholders.
The process kicked off with a series of City Portraits Workshops, including the Data Portrait Workshop and the Community Portrait Workshop. These sessions aimed to create a holistic and comprehensive picture of Barcelona's current economic, social, and environmental status.
In the Data Portrait Workshop, participants were tasked with analysing a range of quantitative data, giving an overview of the city's performance across various socio-economic and environmental indicators. In a two hour long virtual gathering on May 5, 2022, 56 experts and professionals representing 30 entities came together to refine Barcelona's indicator portrait.
The workshop revolved around three key objectives: introducing and promoting the doughnut economy and its participatory process for creating a city portrait, fostering dynamic discussions and comparisons of different the portrait lenses, and meticulously validating and refining the indicators that would shape Barcelona's indicator portrait. These indicators had already undergone a thorough a rigorous research process.
The participants were organized into five groups (A, B, C, D, and E), each dedicated to exploring specific lenses of the Barcelona portrait: Local Social (LS), Ecological (LE), and Global Social (GS). Notably, the Global-Ecological (GE) lens was not addressed during the workshop, as indicators for this lens had already been established.
The participants evaluated proposed indicators, providing valuable feedback and suggesting alternative sources for indicator calculation. A total of 68 new indicators were proposed for the local-ecological lens, and 102 for the local-social lens.
The group focusing on the global-social lens presented thought-provoking indicators and practical cases, illuminating the interconnectedness between our lifestyle choices and the well-being of individuals outside our city's borders.
As a crucial steppingstone, this workshop empowered Barcelona's indicator portrait by leveraging the expertise and insights of diverse stakeholders.
The Community Portrait Workshop, on the other hand, used qualitative data and personal narratives to capture the city's unique social fabric. This workshop provided participants with the opportunity to share their personal experiences and stories, creating a rich, collective vision of the community’s perception of the city.
On May 26, 2022, the Community Portrait Workshop convened at Pere Vila School, bringing together 38 participants representing 29 entities, businesses, and citizens from the B+S network. This interactive session aimed to capture people's perceptions of living within the Doughnut and assess Barcelona's progress toward this goal.
The workshop had three key objectives: presenting the participatory process for creating a comprehensive portrait of the city, exploring the concept of "prospering" within the doughnut model, and capturing a perceptual snapshot of Barcelona's ecological and social reality.
Divided into groups, participants discussed individual behaviours and collective initiatives that either diverge from or align with the Doughnut. Key takeaways emerged from the discussions, including themes such as mobility, food systems, urban planning, housing, and citizen culture. Participants emphasized the significance of promoting sustainable mobility, social assistance programs, urban gardens, and sustainable food practices.
Challenges were also identified, including limited access to local products, consumerism, waste management, affordable housing, and the need for sustainable transportation alternatives.
Building on the insight gathered from the City Portraits Workshops, the series continued with a workshop led by Kate Raworth, the creator of Doughnut Economics, on June 10, 2022. Raworth and her team from DEAL led an intensive, participatory discussion centred around the levers of change from the existing economic model to a doughnut economy.
The workshop delved into the five essential design traits that hold the potential for transformation: purpose, networks, governance, ownership, and finance. Participants considered these traits in the context of Barcelona's unique territorial landscape, recognising the diverse contributions that different organisations can make in driving transformative actions. The intention was to identify and harness these levers of change to propel the city towards a regenerative and distributive future.
With 54 attendees encompassing a range of expertise, including politicians, technicians, business representatives, and academic experts, the workshop fostered collaboration and knowledge exchange. The Miro online whiteboard platform (add link) summarises the contributions on the five levers of change - Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership, and Finance - from the local (City Council) to the global (world, EU, and the Spanish state).
After laying the foundation with the workshops, the process moved into a series of debates known as the Transitions Cycle. These debates provided a platform for discussion and critical thinking around the application of Donut Economics in the real world. Participants reflected on the proposed changes, shared their perspectives, and engaged in constructive dialogue, which enriched the ongoing process.
June 11 marked a pivotal moment in the 'Move for the Climate' event, where participants had the privilege of engaging with Kate Raworth, the architect of the Doughnut model. Her discourse provided a comprehensive critique of our current degenerative and divisive economic structure and illustrated the essence of her revolutionary Doughnut concept.
1. Tourism: Shifting Paradigms
Recognising the substantial environmental and social impacts of the tourism industry, participants suggested the necessity of educating tourists about these effects, encouraging sustainable and responsible behaviours. They discussed the importance of returning a portion of tourism benefits to citizens and diversifying the economy to promote decent employment.
2. Housing: Reframing Perspectives
Housing discussions took a transformative approach. Rather than simply seeing housing as a commodity, participants emphasized the necessity of alternative forms of housing tenure, advocating for housing as a fundamental right rather than a business. They also highlighted the importance of housing rehabilitation and sustainable energy generation.
3. Doughnut Companies: Nurturing Growth
Participants also turned their attention towards Doughnut companies. They underscored the need to celebrate and make visible those companies that operate within the Doughnut economy, fostering a conducive environment for the establishment and success of responsible local businesses. There was also a strong consensus on promoting a shift in societal values through education, recognising its critical role in shaping a Doughnut economy.
Exploring the intricate relationship between human health and the health of our planet, the second debate of the Transitions Cycle took place on Monday, June 20, 2022, from 6 to 7 pm. Led by Josep Maria Antó, an esteemed senior researcher and former scientific director of ISGlobal, the discussion revolved around the concept of Planetary Health. Antó emphasized the significance of acknowledging the interdependence between human well-being and the natural systems of Earth, expressing concern over the existing inconsistency in our understanding of health that neglects the planet's welfare.
Supported by scientific evidence, he underscored the mutual benefits of sustainable practices, such as adopting local diets, utilising renewable energy sources, and designing eco-friendly cities, which promote both human and planetary health. Conversely, he highlighted the detrimental impact of factors like tobacco use, chemical proliferation, and excessive consumption on both fronts. Despite possessing viable solutions to address current societal challenges, the lack of progress in implementing them is pulling us further away from our goals. The ensuing debate focused on identifying areas within the local context where improvements can be made, including the imperative to transform the capitalist system, promote values aligned with social needs and human rights, and enhance the coherence and coordination of municipal actions.
The Transitions Cycle came to a thought-provoking close on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, with a captivating lecture by Giorgos Kallis, an esteemed ecological economist and political ecologist. Kallis, renowned for his work on environmental justice and growth limits, focused on the concept of limits and its implications for our society.
The debate that followed Kallis’ lecture resonated with these pressing concerns and yielded valuable insights, agreeing on the importance of four main points of action:
1. Rethinking Cultural Mindset: Transforming limits from negative to enriching can awaken creativity and restore autonomy.
2. Promoting the Common Good: Encouraging initiatives prioritising collective well-being while discouraging detrimental capitalist practices.
3. Shifting the Narrative: Education plays a vital role in changing the narrative around limits. By teaching both children and adults about the inherent boundaries of nature, we can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for sustainability.
4. Limits in Politics: Politics should move beyond simply prohibiting excess. Instead, it should focus on developing and fostering actions that generate greater well-being for all. This may involve setting limits, but also embracing incentives, innovation, and alternative approaches.
The insights gathered from the initial workshops and debates paved the way for the Action Workshops. The goal was to reflect on the levers of economic model change and define sustainability projects that the signatory entities of the Citizen Commitment to Sustainability should carry out.
Two sequential Action Workshops were held on November 8 and 29, 2022, bringing together a diverse range of participants to discuss and define the sustainability projects to be implemented.
During the workshop on November 8, 2022, attended by 35 participants from 29 different entities, the focus was on presenting the key challenges facing the city, and participants were divided into groups to brainstorm ideas for collaborative projects. Through this process, 49 specific action proposals emerged, forming 16 different project proposals. A subsequent technical synthesis job led to the consolidation of these ideas into seven viable projects that would be further developed in the next workshop.
Finally, the From Ideas to Actions Workshop, held on November 29, 2022, provided a platform for defining the projects that would be implemented within the framework of the Citizen Commitment to Sustainability. This workshop was the culmination of the process, solidifying seven viable projects and detailing their specific actions, stakeholders involved, expected impacts, and desired outcomes within a timeframe of 2 to 3 years.
Barcelona's journey towards a comprehensive city portrait is an ongoing process marked by constant refinement and improvement. The tools and methodologies used in this process are continuously evolving, as there is no definitive blueprint for structuring the outcome. The process stages in Barcelona have been characterised by a commitment to public engagement and dialogue. The Transitions Cycle, a platform for public debate, has been integrated into the process, with the aim of fostering inclusive discussions.
By continuously redefining and improving the tools, methodology, and process stages, Barcelona demonstrates its commitment to creating a dynamic and meaningful city portrait. Through this ongoing journey, Barcelona hopes to help pave the way for other cities to engage with the Doughnut framework.
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