Since the full lockdown of COVID-19 in March 2020 in Curaçao, a bottom-up movement has emerged, called “Taskforce Donut Economy” (now officially known as Curaçao Doughnut Economy). This movement is inspired by the world's first city donut that Kate Raworth made for Amsterdam. The purpose of Curaçao Doughnut economy is to create the world's first island doughnut and become a thriving nation.
The economy of Curaçao is in times of major changes. Financial services, the oil refinery, tourism, trade and logistics formed the stable pillars of the island's economy a few years ago. But right now these pillars are staggering in a sustainable direction in search of support. There are no conceivable scenarios in which petroleum refining will continue to exist for a long time. Political instability in Venezuela has for some time caused various government agencies to miss out on port and refinery activities. According to the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten, the economy has shrunk by 2% or more in the past three years in a row. In the summer of 2019, the Central Bureau of Statistics estimated the unemployment level at 21.5% (of which highly skilled jobseekers was a large group), illustrating that the knowledge economy has not yet started. And as of March 2020, COVID-19 has gradually crumbled the island's tourism and service industry to a limited existence. At the same time, COVID-19 has uncovered which sectors contain critical occupational groups to keep society going.
These developments make it clear that the economy needs to be viewed differently. Consider developing new jobs and the value of work itself; however, the focus of import and export products and services will shift. And to offer everyone a future perspective, progress is needed in valuing education and other collective learning systems. People need a right to exist and therefore also need security. And not unimportantly: Curaçao will have to work hard in the coming years on the implementation power of its local government, as well as trust within the Kingdom. Formal bodies on Curaçao, the other Caribbean islands and the Netherlands have produced various studies and policy documents in the past year, but where are the interfaces? How can new economic developments flourish? What is the framework with which the island will familiarly face the future? How is the island going to work in close cooperation with all parts of the Kingdom to strengthen its economy. In short, what's the bigger picture?
Opportunities in a more circular economy according to the principles of the Doughnut can help! There are enormous gains to be made in moving towards a circular economy. The circular economy is fundamentally different from the current linear economy in which Curaçao is still largely active. In a linear economy, raw materials are mined that are processed into a product that is thrown away after use (the so-called make-take-waste systems). The circular economy aims to close all cycles of all raw materials. Closing cycles requires much more than just recycling and / or waste-to-energy. It preserves and innovates production processes and the underlying business models. The cross-links between sectors transform the economy into an ecosystem of innovation. It changes the way value is created and maintained within a society. By taking a different approach to value creation and conservation than just looking at the gross national product, the current business-as-usual will gradually transform.
Bringing circular economy into the Doughnut makes the Island strive for value creation, so that the conservation of finances gets translated into social and ecological terms. The monetary values can be obtained from the reduction of costs for waste management, emission control, raw material procurement, energy consumption, environmental legislation, taxes on natural resources, guarantees and insurance. At the same time, new business models and markets can create new avenues for economic prosperity and exports. From a societal point of view, the circular economy creates employment by developing new production processes that generate value from materials that were previously considered waste. Circular economy also increases community spirit and local cooperation, due to the objective of locating economies as much as possible into physical contexts. Local assets are reused, restored and refurbished as much as possible. Finally, ecology is an unlimited source of possibilities, provided a society relates to it in a healthy and creative way. The island is rich in sun, wind and sea and has a potential to be explored in its flora. By working with the circular economy, the Council of Ministers of Curaçao is facilitating experiments with living labs and incubators that will unleash a chain reaction of innovations for the future economy.