In 2012, Kate Raworth, an English economist working for the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, proposed an alternative to growth economics – the doughnut model. Put simply [and this video is a good starter explanation], the doughnut model looks for ways that we can meet the means of all within the means of the planet. To ensure that everyone lives with access to education, water, housing in a fair and just society – but without overstepping the planetary boundaries. Raworth challenges us to move beyond a reductive and damaging pursuit of economic growth and to create more sustainable progress that allows both us and the planet to prosper. Currently, we breach both of the hard lines that Raworth lays out. Billions of people still live with the doughnut’s ‘hole’ without meeting their basic human rights. On the other side of the economic spectrum, we’re over-taxing the Earth’s resources and pumping out polluters in quantities the planet can’t handle. Measuring success through GDP is becoming unsustainable. There are several countries who have moved to alternative metrics to determine success. Bhutan famously measures prosperity through ‘Gross National Happiness’. Jacinda Arden unveiled New Zealand’s ‘well-being budget’ in 2019 to gauge longer-term impacts on quality of life rather than focussing on short-term output measures. Scotland is seeking to create an economy that aligns citizen wellbeing with GDP when it comes to determining success. But how could Raworth’s model of sustainable economics be applied to a city?

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