Creating City Portraits

Version 1.0 (July 2020)


The DEAL Team has collaborated with Biomimicry 3.8, C40 Cities and Circle Economy – through the Thriving Cities Initiative – to create the City Portrait methodology, and pilot the approach in Philadelphia, Portland and Amsterdam. We have created this Guide because we are making the City Portrait methodology freely available to all who are interested in downscaling the Doughnut to their city or place, and we want to make it as simple and straightforward as possible for others to do. 

Our motivation is to find the most effective ways to translate the Doughnut into a tool for city-level holistic thinking and decision-making, while recognising cities’ very diverse realities. The City Portrait methodology is the best response that we have come up with so far, and it can be distilled down to a single core question for a city:

             How can our city be a home to
         thriving people, in a thriving place,
whilst respecting the wellbeing of all people,
         and the health of the whole planet?

When a city asks itself this very 21st century 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). 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. 

For a useful summary, here's  a 12 minute introductory video to downscaling the Doughnut to the city, exploring how it can be turned into a tool for transformative action. 

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This first version of the methodology was developed with a focus on cities in the global North, due to their responsibility to act first and fastest in transforming their social and ecological impacts. Future iterations of the methodology will be adapted and extended with a focus on the context and priorities of cities in the Global South, and likewise to other scales – from neighbourhoods to nations, and beyond. 
We look forward to discussing, collaborating with, and learning from others in the DEAL Community, so that, together, we can keep making it more relevant to more places, at many scales.


The City Portrait methodology was conceptualised by Kate Raworth of Doughnut Economics Action Lab and Janine Benyus of Biomimicry 3.8, and this methodological guide was written by Andrew Fanning, Olya Krestyaninova, Kate Raworth, Jamie Dwyer, Nicole Hagerman Miller, and Fredrik Eriksson.

The methodology was greatly enriched by comments from colleagues and advisers including: Julia Lipton, Tom Bailey, Josh Alpert, Elvia Rufo Jimenez, Zach Tofias, Cécile Faraud, Mehrnaz Ghojeh, Chantal Oudkerk Pool, and Krisztina Campbell from the C40; Ilektra Kouloumpi, Annerieke Douma, Max Russell, and Jurn de Winter from Circle Economy; Paul van Schaik from Integral Institute; Ieva Rozentale from Mindworks; Philip Vergragt, Manisha Anantharaman, Halina Brown, and Christoph Rupprecht from SCORAI; Anne Owen from the University of Leeds; Kate Meyer from the Planetary Accounting Network; Nicolas Esposito, Haley Jordan, and Helena Rudoff from The City of Philadelphia; Kyle Diesner and Amanda Watson from The City of Portland, Oregon; Eveline Jonkhoff and Juan-Carlos Goilo from the City of Amsterdam; Christoph Gran and Tabea Waltenberg from ZOE Institute; Laure Malchair from Co-Create; Philippe Roman and Geraldine Thiry from ICHEC; Francesca Zecca from the University of Edinburgh; and Carlota Sanz and Rob Shorter from Doughnut Economics Action Lab.

Who's using this tool?

    Louise Hård af Segerstad

    Hi. I love the doughtnut and enjoyed checking out the Amsterdam work. Taking it further into my own practice I would like to know how the reasoning went when the biodiversity and novel entities (chemical) boundaries where replaced by waste and over-fishing? Grateful for any reflections, and happy to join this community! Thanks.

    about 6 hours ago

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