Doughnut Data Portraits in global South contexts

A co-creative process to reflect global South priorities and interests

 Version 6.0 (October, 2022)

This story is a dedicated space originally intended as an internal repository for the of 20+ contributors who were actively involved in a co-creative workshop process hosted by DEAL to explore adapting the Doughnut Data Portrait methodology to global South contexts and priorities (April - July 2021).

The co-creative global South workshops team has kindly agreed to make the rich contributions and resources within this repository publicly available to members of the DEAL Community who are actively engaging with the methods described in DEAL's 'Doughnut Unrolled: Data Portrait of Place' handbook.

We at DEAL are very grateful for the time and expertise that we shared with all the contributors as this co-creative process unfolded, and we believe the process and learnings will provide a powerful inspiration to others.

The remainder of this page describes our co-creative process session by session, with links to many relevant working documents, recordings, and presentation slides. The original content and materials have been lightly revised to safeguard the personal details of contributors, but are otherwise unchanged. We encourage you to dive in!


Welcome to the Doughnut Economics Action Lab’s (first) co-creative process to adapt the ‘City Portrait’ methodology so that it is relevant and useful to global South priorities and interests. The City Portrait is a transformative tool for cities and places to explore and embrace a vision of thriving that recognises what makes a place unique, while also recognising its global interconnections and responsibilities.

The City Portrait methodology arose out of a conceptual collaboration between Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics Action Lab, or DEAL) and Janine Benyus (Biomimicry 3.8), and it was applied in the cities of Philadelphia, Portland, and Amsterdam in 2019 as part of the Thriving Cities Initiative – a collaboration between C40 Cities, Circle Economy, and DEAL.

The methodology invites pioneering cities & places to ask themselves a very 21st century question:

        How can our place become a home
        to thriving people, in a thriving place,

whilst respecting the wellbeing of all people,

        and the health of the whole planet?

As a place reflects upon answers to this core question, the result is a holistic snapshot of the city's performance across four crucial ‘lenses’ that arise from combining two domains (social and ecological) and two scales (local and global). 

Here is an example of the four lenses from the City of Ottawa in Canada:

The City Portrait's 4 lenses, illustrated for Ottawa

Each of these interconnected lenses focuses on a part of the overarching question at the core of the City Portrait. Together, they combine local aspirations – to be thriving people in a thriving place – with global responsibility – both social and ecological – that requires every place to consider its many complex interconnections with the world in which it is embedded.

At DEAL, we are confident that this place-based methodology has the potential to be adapted beyond its first application in global North cities. That is why we have begun this co-creative process to adapt and extend this approach, in collaboration with partners in the global South who have shown interest , so that it reflects the context of their needs, histories, interests, and perspectives. We are delighted to have you join us!

We at DEAL are happy to be hosting this process, and we are also learning as we go -- please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

Purpose of this story

This page is a dedicated space for the 20-30 contributors of this co-creative process that we DEAL will update regularly as a living repository of materials and our time together over the coming months. The webpage provides an overview of the co-creative process that we have envisioned as a series of online workshop sessions. This page is not strictly private, but it is not listed elsewhere, so it should only be reached by those who have the exact web address. It summarises the set of activities that we will work through as a group, and includes additional information on the collaborative materials that will be used, and practical tips to guide contributors through the sessions. Importantly, this page should be seen as a living document that will be revised and refined as we work through the sessions together, incorporating new insights as they arise.

Contributors and Agenda

Here is a list of contributors who have kindly agreed to share their time and expertise. The dates and a high-level breakdown of the activities planned from April - July, 2021 are below:

High-level agenda and dates

Online Sessions

We have organised the core of this co-creative process as a series of five online sessions. In order to come together virtually, we DEAL are organising logistics and collecting inputs using established tools, such as:

You should have received calendar invitations for the confirmed Sessions 1-6 shown in the table above (with Zoom links embedded) -- please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

Session 1: Introductions and Setting the Scene

The aim of this session was for contributors to:

  • get to know each other, and start to feel like a team
  • become familiarised with the Doughnut Portrait, and to understand this co-creative process to adapt it to reflect global South context and priorities
  • think of 3 reasons why this collaborative methodology is worth creating, and 3 questions that come to mind


In preparation for the session, please:


Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session.

DEAL Summary of Session 1

Woo hoo, what a great start -- thanks to an outstanding team of contributors bringing nuanced and concise insights, the global South co-creative process to adapt the Doughnut Portrait methodology is up and running! We began with some opening remarks from the DEAL Team emphasising how excited and grateful we are to be on this co-creative journey with a core team of contributors who have all shown interest in downscaling the Doughnut to their place. We also stressed that this is DEAL’s first time hosting a process like this, so we are learning as we go, and we highly appreciate feedback along the way.

Next came a round of introductory remarks from each of the contributors. Given that everyone had the list of contributors on hand, we wanted to briefly-yet-playfully acknowledge the diversity within the team. Since this co-creative process is all about adapting the Doughnut to different places, we invited everyone to think of an alternative to the Doughnut from the culture and context that they’re in.

We loved the responses so much -- thank you!

Doughnut alternatives across the global South

Then we at DEAL introduced the Doughnut Portrait methodology, and how it has been applied in global North cities like Amsterdam. We also presented our proposed structure and overarching questions for the upcoming co-creative sessions. Each of these sessions will consider how to adapt aspects of the methodology to reflect global South context and priorities, summarised in the figure below: 

High-level structure and questions

We also described the set of online tools that we are using to organise and collect everyone’s inputs. You can find the slides that we shared here

More broadly It’s important to reiterate that all of the co-creative working documents are open and available to all, and we actively encourage you to prepare and make contributions before and after the in-person sessions. This way we can use our time together as effectively as possible. You can find links to all of the documents associated with each session on this webpage (they are all stored on a shared Google Drive folder).

We then invited contributors to form four smaller groups in a breakout session to reflect on two high-level questions:

  • Why is this collaborative methodology worth creating?
  • What questions are already arising?

We at DEAL were so grateful for the concise, and nuanced inputs that each group shared -- they are already proving useful as we prepare for the next sessions. It’s also exhilarating for us to see how much content can be created and shared by a core team using online collaborative tools, even though we're physically scattered around the world (~60 responses!). Finally, here are most of the contributors who joined us during the first session:

Co-creative team at work

Thanks again to everyone who helped get this co-creative process off to a great start -- we can't wait for Session 2!

Session 2: Thriving People (Local–Social lens) 

The aim of this session is broadly for contributors to consider how to answer the question "how can all the people of this place thrive?" in a global South context. In particular, we envision questions surrounding:

  • Inclusivity - how to ensure voices are heard, especially of lived experience? (e.g. participatory action research, focus groups – what else?)
  • Dimensions - what are the social dimensions to be focusing on? (e.g. culture, community, racial equity – what else?)
  • Targets - how can targets best be set? (e.g. Sustainable Development Goals, city’s/place’s own targets, create new ones – what else?)
  • Indicators & Data - what data could be gathered / created to show the current status? (e.g. international / local / crowdsourced / photos – what else?)

In preparation for the session, we invite you to reflect on the questions above, and:

Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session.

DEAL Summary of Session 2

Wow, the co-creative team really rolled up our collective sleeves and dove into methods to answer the question “How can all the people of this place thrive?” As before, we at DEAL were energised and inspired by the rich discussion as well as the written contributions and exchange in the collaborative session 2 working document. You can find all of the materials related to this session here.

Co-creative team during Session 2

We began with a presentation from the DEAL Team recapping the previous session and setting the scene for the session ahead. In particular, we shared three themes – scale, power, and diversity – that we heard from the breakout sessions last time on questions already arising from applying the Portrait methodology in the global South.

Word cloud of Session 1 inputs, highlighting recurring themes of scale, power, and diversity

For scale, we proposed a set of criteria to help choose effective scales to downscale the Doughnut – from neighbourhood to nation – based on local context, including governance, interconnections with surroundings, and bioregion (and we invite additional contributions!). 

On power, we briefly presented an approach that DEAL uses to help identify the powers that a city has to (re)align the design of their institutions, and we proposed to return to this framework in Session 5. 

As for the huge diversity across the global South, we emphasised that the Doughnut Portrait methodology has been designed to be locally relevant rather than comparable across places, as the character of community and the relevance of historical and cultural context can be crucial entry points for civic reflection.

Then we asked the team to consider how the Local–Social lens could be adapted from the approach that we have applied in global North cities to reflect the context and priorities of cities and places in the global South.

Core methodological questions to consider 'How can all the people of this place thrive?'

We raised many questions: should alternative social dimensions be added? How would you select place-based targets, especially if they do not exist? How to select indicators that offer a holistic snapshot to discuss what it means to thrive, and what data could be gathered or created to measure performance? How can methods be chosen to reflect upon whose voice is heard – and whose may be left out?

Then we invited contributors to form four smaller groups to share reflections on these questions based on their expertise and context, using online collaborative slides to record inputs. When all the groups reconvened, we at DEAL were delighted to hear concise and substantive insights from all of the groups – too many to summarise here, but it was motivating to see how smoothly the methodological choices of the Doughnut Portrait are being picked up, examined, and built upon.

Finally, we wrapped up the session with an open discussion that felt like we have been working together as a team for much longer than a couple 2-hour sessions. In terms of methods, contributors shared ideas from crowdsourced wikis that bring the Portrait to life to the importance of how small communities often do innovative things in surprising ways that often go unseen. We also heard suggestions to deepen our co-creative network and learnings, from gathering ways that contributors are gaining “buy-in” to engage with Doughnut Economics from their communities (added to Session 5!) to mapping contributors and networks so that this group can keep in touch long after these sessions are complete.

In short, we really enjoyed this productive session, and we’re looking forward to the next!

Session 3: Thriving Place (Local–Ecological lens)

The aim of this session is broadly for contributors to consider how to answer the question “how can this place thrive within its natural habitat?” in a global South context. At its core, the Local–Ecological lens asks what Nature would (and wouldn’t) do here to create conditions conducive to life, and challenges our cities and places to meet or exceed the generosity of ecosystem services produced by native ecosystems.

This approach is based on the principles of biomimicry, which comes with methodological challenges surrounding:

  • Targets - how to explore what Nature would do here? What wouldn’t it do here? Why or why not? 
  • Dimensions - we selected 7 ecosystem services to illustrate how global North cities can aim to be as generous as the healthy ecosystem next door – what else?
  • Indicators & Data - ideal indicators would measure the city’s contribution to the 7 ecosystem services. There are likely huge gaps in local data – can global / satellite data help? Or crowdsourced data collection (i.e. citizen science)? What else?   
  • Social Interconnections - what are the interconnections between thriving people and thriving place? (e.g. green spaces linked to better health and education outcomes – what else?)

In preparation for the session, we invite you to:

Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session.

DEAL Summary of Session 3

During this third session, it really felt to us at DEAL like the group of contributors is settling into a nice rhythm, feeling at home in the team (at least we hope so!). The focus of this session was to consider ways to answer “how can this place thrive within its natural habitat?” from a global South context, and once again we were blown away by the exceptional quality of discussion, and the rich insights shared by contributors. You can find all of the materials associated with this session here.

Contributors during Session 3

After some brief hello’s, we DEAL introduced the core approach for this local–ecological lens that has been applied in global North cities, which asks “can our city be as generous as the wildland next door?” This question arises from the practice of biomimicry, which invites city planners to look to their surrounding healthy ecosystem, and aspire for their city to match or exceed the generosity of that habitat in creating conditions conducive to life. Find our presentation slides here.

Considering how our cities & places could mimic nature's generosity

Then we asked the team to consider whether and how the Local–Ecological lens could be adapted to reflect the context and priorities of cities and places in the global South. We raised many questions: is the aim to match or exceed nature’s generosity still relevant? Do the seven local–ecological dimensions resonate in your context? What kinds of data could be gathered, and how? What are the interconnections between thriving people and a thriving place, and how can they best be made visible?

Core methodological questions to consider "How can this place thrive within its natural habitat?"

We broke into four smaller groups to discuss and share reflections on these questions, using online collaborative slides to record inputs. Once again, we at DEAL were really impressed by the substantive insights and valuable examples from all of the groups (more than 50 responses!).  We heard concise and fascinating interventions, from connecting with nature in urban food systems and the relevance of nature-based solutions to the political nature of data/reporting and being sensitive to powerful interests (both at home and abroad).

We at DEAL really appreciated all these inputs and we’re excited to explore the many suggestions to adapt this lens, for example making visible other dimensions, such as non-carbon nutrient cycling and the well-being that a connection with Nature can give.

We can’t wait for the next session -- see you soon!

Session 4: Health of all people and the whole planet (Global–Social and Global–Ecological lenses)

The aim of this session is broadly for contributors to consider ways to answer the core questions “how can this place respect the well-being of all people?” and “how can this place respect the health of the whole planet?” To make visible the global social and ecological interconnections of a place in a global South context, many methodological questions arise, including:

  • Dimensions & Interconnections – In high-consuming global North cities, we focus on their global impact upon others and the planet, but of course things work both ways. How can we recognise two-way connections in global South contexts (i.e. how do people elsewhere impact upon us here?)
  • Indicators & Data – How can we make these interconnections visible with indicators & data, both socially (e.g. supply chains, remittances, migrant labour – what else?) and ecologically (e.g. carbon footprint, material footprint, nutrient overloading – what else?). 
  • Targets – How could targets best be determined (e.g. downscaling planetary boundaries, supply chain responsibility), especially in the context of weak global enforcement mechanisms? 
  • Usefulness – What is the work that these lenses can do that would make this approach useful? (i.e. what kinds of actions could possibly result from considering global interconnections?)

In preparation for the session, we invite you to:

Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session.

DEAL Summary of Session 4

In this fourth session, we DEAL invited the co-creative team to grapple with two core questions in the Portrait methodology, which are both concerned with tracing the global interconnections of a place with the rest of the world, both socially and ecologically. We were worried the session covered too much – ways to measure how much a place respects the health of all people and the whole planet are not light topics – but we were also feeling a need to balance and respect the generosity of contributors’ time during these voluntary co-creative sessions. Overall, we think the session worked well enough, and we are grateful for the high-quality contributions (as usual!), but we were also left wishing for more time together. You can find the recording and materials associated with this session here.

Session 4 contributors at work

After some brief hello’s, we DEAL introduced the ways that global North cities like Amsterdam had measured performance in the global–ecological lens by comparing consumption-based environmental footprints with respect to fair shares of planetary boundaries to give an indication of how much their places respect the health of the whole planet. At the same time, we invited contributors to consider how and whether it would be relevant to make two-way connections visible through targets, indicators, and data in a global South context, by simultaneously asking ‘how can the degradation of planetary health impact this place?’

Two-way connections in the global-ecological lens

Next, we provided a similar introduction to the global-social lens. We described the procedure followed in global North cities, which centred on demonstrating the impacts on communities and workers worldwide through the global supply chains of consumer goods, such as food, clothing, and electronics on sale in each place. We invited contributors to consider whether it would be useful to enrich the question of how their place impacts the wellbeing of others in a global South context by simultaneously seeking to make visible the two-way relation, which asks how people and places worldwide affect the wellbeing of people in their place – and if useful, how to make such interconnections visible through targets and indicators.

Interconnections in the global-social lens

We brought far more questions than answers, and once again we were very impressed and motivated by the ability and willingness of the co-creative team to confidently navigate big, complex questions with no easy answers. The team was invited to break into four smaller groups to discuss and reflect on how to recognise two-way interconnections, including kinds of indicators & data that could be gathered and how best to set targets, and also how to assess strategic entry-points given the countless interconnections between places worldwide. 

Session 4 breakout session discussion questions

We invited contributors to select and join a smaller group focused on these questions through the perspective of either the global-social lens or the global-ecological lens using online collaborative slides during a breakout session. Some contributors shared that they would have preferred to contribute to both, which reinforces our sense that it could have been too much for a single session to focus on both lenses.

That being said, the quality of the responses shared back after the breakout sessions was excellent. We heard fascinating examples on how places are impacted by, and impact upon, others through mining (Brazil), oil refinement (Curacao), labour rights (Malaysia), migration (El Salvador) or electricity generation (India). Contributors also noted how they were connected through shared narratives, such as bio-literacy, valuing the wisdom of Indigenous/local knowledge systems, and decolonising imagination from Western influence. All in all, another very interesting and enriching session – looking forward to the next!

Session 5: Emergent Issues and Topics

The aim of this session is to acknowledge complexity and leave space for contributors to deliberate upon emergent issues and topics that have arisen during the previous sessions. In particular, we will be focusing on: 

Interconnections - We have examined each of the Portrait’s 4 lenses in detail, but it is their many complex interconnections that reveal both the opportunities and the challenges facing cities & regions in the 21st century. What connections across the 4 lenses are distinctly important for global South contexts? Please bring your examples, which really help bring this tool to life.

Powers to act - The ultimate aspiration for each of the four lenses of the Portrait is to be able to compare a place’s desired outcomes with its current performance. But what’s next?  It seems that degenerative and divisive conditions are woven into the design of our institutions themselves. Where does a city or place have power to pivot towards a regenerative and distributive economy (and where does it not)? To uncover opportunities to take transformative action, we at DEAL find it useful to consider 5 key design traits of institutions – their purpose, networks, governance, ownership, and finance. What are ways that this framework could be useful in your context?

In preparation for the session, we invite you to:

Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session.

DEAL Summary of Session 5

Wooo hoo, another fascinating session – we’re so grateful for the opportunity to share space with this brilliant co-creative team. We were delighted to welcome Ruurd Priester to the session to share some insights from workshops exploring interconnections across the four lenses at the neighbourhood level in Amsterdam. We also introduced and received valuable comments on a framework DEAL is developing to envision the ‘powers to act’ for place-based institutions, such as municipalities or regional governments, to pivot away from the pursuit of growth for its own sake, and towards thriving economies that are regenerative and distributive by design. You can find the recording and materials associated with this session here.

Co-creative team at work in Session 5

After a quick recap and hello’s, we DEAL introduced how the four lenses have been combined in global North cities to bring targets and indicators together with challenges and initiatives already underway, in order to map interconnections and possibilities for transformative action, using examples from recent workshops held with city officials and planners in Toronto.

Envisioning interconnections across dimensions of the 4 lenses

Then, Ruurd presented some fascinating insights from three online participatory workshops exploring the four lenses of the Doughnut Portrait with community organisers in the Amsterdam neighbourhoods of Purmerplein, Marineterrein, and Plein 40-45 (using online Miro boards). He emphasised that participants in Amsterdam expressed enthusiasm for the holistic framing offered by the Portrait, which they seemed to grasp intuitively, and therefore could focus on creating meaningful content – mapping synergies across existing initiatives and identifying possibilities for action.

Community workshops using the Doughnut Portrait in Amsterdam neighbourhoods

Next up, we DEAL introduced the  ‘powers to act’ framework, which explores opportunities to transform institutions by aligning their purpose, networks, governance, ownership, and finance – five core design traits that illuminate whether and how an institution may be ‘locked in’ to serving the 20th century paradigm of infinite growth, or the 21st century paradigm of thriving in balance.
Envisioning 'powers to act' at different scales across 5 key features of institutional design

Then, we invited contributors to form smaller groups during breakout sessions focused on either interconnections across the 4 lenses, or the powers to act framework, using online collaborative slides to capture insights. As usual, we were deeply inspired and grateful for the contributions that poured in from the Team.

Session 5 breakout session discussion questions

In terms of interconnections, there was broad consensus that the Doughnut Portrait provides a useful frame for assessing the benefits and burdens of different plans and actions, using examples from vegetable gardens in Costa Rica to national housing schemes in Brazil. One contributor shared inspiring plans to use the Portrait as a tool in an educational context where students would choose and explore locally relevant themes/sectors in Lagoa de Araruama (Brazil). 

In terms of the powers to act framework, we heard broad consensus that contributors found it very useful, with many examples of how places could better align the five elements to overcome challenges, such as a vision (purpose) to create more green spaces in Dhaka  (Bangladesh) running up against the question of who owns the land. There was also a view that working together in networks can enhance the influence of individual groups, for example a contributor related how being part of the global anti-colonial movement in Barbados contributed to residents’ shared stake (ownership) in building their country. We also heard a proposal from one of the groups to potentially add a sixth ‘narratives’ element to the design traits in the powers to act framework. Thanks for a great session!

Session 6: Contributors' Reflections and Questions

The aim of this sixth session is to provide a space for contributors to hear from each other's contexts. It arose as a revision to the original proposed process because we were planning for the fifth session and realised there would be limited opportunity to hear from the co-creative team contributors within this space of trust and collective learning that we have been building together over the past months. We’d love to hear from you! For example:

  • Tell us about ideas / plans for localising the Doughnut in your city / region / nation.

  • How are you engaging stakeholders of all kinds and building interest and traction around the concepts and approach?

  • What questions are you holding that you could benefit from the group's inspiration to help answer?

We propose that the whole sixth session is in plenary (i.e. no breakout groups). Contributors will share their actions and reflections in concise 8-minute interventions, while the group responds with feedback in the Chat Box and during 3-minute Q+A periods. We do hope you understand that the slots will have to be brief in order to hear from everyone -- it's very exciting!

Here is an open document with more details and space for contributors to share resources, ideas, and questions before, during, and after this session. The action-packed agenda is shown below.

DEAL Summary of Session 6

We are SO glad that the co-creative Team agreed to join and contribute to this sixth session – what an inspiring set of concise interventions and insightful reflections and discussion! We heard from eight very different groups reflect openly about ways to put the Doughnut Portrait into practice in their places, bringing their questions and challenges to the Team. You can find the recording and materials associated with this session here.

Contributors' actions and reflections

We held the whole session in plenary, and invited contributors to share reflections and questions in their presentations as well as in the Chat Box (given that there was not nearly enough time to discuss the hugely diverse set of interventions shared). We DEAL heard so many useful reflections and questions about applying Doughnut Economics in practice, from the types of data and system boundaries available at small scales to the next steps for this co-creative Team.

There is too much for a brief summary to do justice to the valuable contributions shared in this session, from Costa Rica to Malaysia with many stops along the way -- we have added a copy of the Chat Box discussion during each presentation to the session’s open working document (redacted to safeguard personal details), and we definitely recommend catching the rich insights stored in the recording – thanks so much!

Public webinars: Core team (including DEAL) presents draft methodology to the DEAL Community

On July 28 and 29, 2021, the DEAL Team hosted two webinars to share progress adapting the 4-lens Doughnut Portrait methodology over the past year, and to hear from inspiring changemakers already putting it into practice in their own contexts in Australia, Barbados, Canada, and India. We also invited members of the DEAL Community to share comments and suggestions on DEAL's latest methodological guidance on creating Doughnut Portraits for places. We DEAL have published a Story summarising these inspiring sessions on our platform (with a recording) - we encourage you to take a look!

Public webinars sharing progress adapting the Doughnut Data Portrait with the co-creative Team


We are so very very grateful to all of the contributors who joined this co-creative process, showing up with their energy, generosity, and inspiring expertise session after session. Thank you all. The sessions and activities were designed and implemented collaboratively by Andrew Fanning, Kate Raworth, Rob Shorter, Carlota Sanz, and Leonora Grcheva. We are also grateful for Zoom, Google Suite (especially Slides, Docs, Drive, and Calendar), and the internet – online tools that allow us to meet and collaborate in real-time with a global community. 




    Yvonne-Sylvia Constantin

    Sion, Valais/Wallis, Suisse

    The interest in participating in a project using this concept

    Carolina Tomaz


    I would love to be connected with Brazilian people who are interested to apply the Doughnut economic. Moreover, with projects and


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