Doughnuts in China

Localizing Doughnut Economics into a Chinese context

At its core, Doughnut Economics is about reaching an equilibrium between human needs and Earth's capacity to meet them. It invites us to consider the true purpose of economic development, putting the well-being of people and the planet at the fore.

In China, we rarely eat doughnuts. But we do have something with a similar shape: the ping an kou (平安扣 ), or peace button. The ping an kou has served as a focal point of WildBound's localization of Doughnut Economics into a Chinese context.

A picture of a green ping an kou (平安扣 ), or peace button

The ping an kou is not only the shape of a Doughnut, but it is a symbol of harmony between humans and nature, and it is this harmony between humans and nature that Doughnut Economics aims to achieve.

Thus, when the WildBound team began learning about Doughnut Economics, we found it incredibly resonant with traditional Chinese values – such as those symbolized in the ping an kou – and the principles underlying Ecological Civilization pursued by China in recent years. Each of these holds human-nature harmony at their core.

Centering human-nature harmony in introducing Doughnut Economics into a Chinese context has proved fruitful by:

  • Forging and fortifying networks for cross-sector integration of ecological values in China
  • Illuminating existing interest in Doughnut Economic principles in a wide range of age groups and disciplinary backgrounds
  • Enhancing the personal resonance of Doughnut Economics in local contexts by interpreting it alongside existing Chinese human-nature symbolism and ecological values
  • Increasing feasibility for local businesses, school groups, and others to execute traditional Chinese ecological values by introducing relevant toolkits, frameworks, and workshops from the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL)

Doughnut Economics and traditional Chinese values build off one another, bringing to light possibilities for a more ecological society and opening pathways to create it.

In October, WildBound reached out to groups who exhibited existing concern for the environment but might not be familiar with the useful tools provided by DEAL. These included social innovation communities and youth environmental groups, such as Bottle Dream, Beijing Energy Network, and Shumi, the Schumacher community in China. 

Discussions with these groups revealed robust existing interest in Doughnut Economics principles, particularly surrounding human-nature harmony. There were people of many different ages, educational backgrounds, and work sectors passionate about reaching balance between humans and nature, and they were excited that Doughnut Economics offered more tools for reaching it.

In early November, Wildbound held two activities to introduce Doughnut Economics frameworks to educators in China. These centered on sustainable education and intergenerational responsibility. Many teachers were already familiar with Doughnut Economics and were excited to learn about DEAL tools so they could use them in their programs.

On November 13, WildBound joined communities around the world for the first 

# GlobalDonutDay hashtag_lookup:#GlobalDonutDay by holding an Doughnut Festival in Beijing.

An event flyer for Global Donut Day 2023 events in Beijing

The Doughnut Festival in Beijing consisted of two portions: an online and offline portion. 

The online portion featured a global livestream, where Doughnut Economics author Kate Rayworth explained Doughnut Economics and Doughnut Festival groups from around the world introduced themselves. 

The offline portion consisted of a "Step into the Doughnut" workshop at the WildBound office. Here, participants created a large doughnut with ropes and walked in an around it, while contemplating what the spaces of human shortfall (within the hole of the doughnut) and planetary overshoot (outside the doughnut) mean for well-being, as well as how to help humanity enter the space of ecological balance (inside the doughnut itself). Afterwards, they broke into pairs to discuss natural places they love, resources they rely on, and how they can help humanity step into the doughnut.

Participants shared reflections after this activity, including:

  • A sense of constriction inside the hole of the doughnut and a sense of groundlessness outside the doughnut.
  • That people inside the doughnut had started walking in the same direction, as if in a flow, without communicating to eachother through words.
  • The difficulty of stepping into the space of ecological balance when standing in a place of overshoot (outside the doughnut) or lack (in the hole of doughnut), even if they wanted to, because of the quick flow of people within the doughnut. This made them think about how difficult it is to reach a place of balance between humans and nature, and that achieving it requires a consistent flow of give-and-take between people and nature.
  • The importance of recognizing our own unique skills that can help humanity step inside the doughnut.

Thanks to collaboration with Bottle Dream, Beijing Energy Network, and Shumi, his event gained widespread participation. 11 people attended the offline workshop, 99 people registered for the live online Zoom event, and 871 people watched the online livestream. 

WildBound will continue working to integrate Doughnut Economics principles and tools into sustainability programs within China, increasing the effectiveness of such programs in achieving harmony between humans and the earth. 

A picture of a whiteboard with the Doughnut in Chinese in green and red pen





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