Creating City Portraits

A methodological guide for downscaling the Doughnut to the city and turning it into a tool for transformative action

Version 1.1 (February 2021)

Version 2.0 of this tool is available here

* También disponible en español abajo (PDF) *
* 下面也提供葡萄牙语(PDF) * 
* Também disponível em português abaixo (PDF) *


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 (available as PDF below) 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.

The 'Downscaling the Doughnut to the City' video embedded above is available for use under a Creative Commons BY SA 4.0 license along with the rest of this tool. It should be attributed to 'The Thriving Cities Initiative'. For full details please see our Licensing Rules.




    Bill O'Shea


    Activist interested in Cities and Regions, Business and Enterprise

    Liz Bormida


    I want to help promote the movement and learn from experts ways to incorporate DEAL into product design.

    Janthe Albers

    Lund, Sweden

    I am researching sustainability transitions and the implementation of doughnut economics in Amsterdam. All support is welcome!

    Christophe Claude


    my hunger for action to fight climate change

    Christiane Lellig over 1 year ago

    Question for the French community: Est-ce qu'il y a des exemples de villes de 15-20,000 habitants qui ont utilisé l'outil du city portait et d'autres outils DEAL? Des essais de reconcilier les méthodes de la théorie u, des municipalities in transition et le doughnut?

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    Helene LE HERICY over 1 year ago

    Bonjour Christiane ! Je suis super intéressée pour proposer l'outil auprès de ma nouvelle région d'adoption Pays Basque ou autre. J'en discuterais avec plaisir avec vous ! Mon email :

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    Christiane Lellig 11 months ago

    Bonjour Hélene, désolée de ma réponse tardive! Je n'avais pas vu votre commentaire. Je vous contacterai par email dans les prochains jours.

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    Kathryn Alexander, MA almost 2 years ago

    I'm just beginning exposing my city (Spokane, WA) to this. Is anyone else in Washington who would like to help?

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    Mark Frohman about 2 years ago

    Anyone out there already using DE tools or framework for a city in the USA? We'd love to hear about your experiences so far. Thanks.

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    Don Dwiggins almost 2 years ago

    I'm surprised that you haven't gotten any responses. Based on my all-too-fallible memory, Portland (I think in Oregon, not Maine) and Philadelphia have started efforts.

    BTW, there's an effort underway to create a State-level tool for California. I've recently joined.

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    Martin More about 2 years ago

    Is there anyone out, who is using this for a small city (50.000)?
    And is anyone already translating it into German?

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    Yuge Lei almost 2 years ago

    I'm currently in the process of adapting it to a ~31,000 town in Germany. There is an inner-German exchange between different groups all over the country and we're currently discussing the translation issue. But there is also a V2 of the canvas due to be released soon, so we're waiting for that.

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    Paul Hainey over 2 years ago

    I'm attending a conference tomorrow where the Leadership Forum for Perth in Scotland are exploring what needs to be done to become "The Most Sustainable Small City in Europe". The City Portraits tool looks like it could be a fantastic resource in this journey.

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    Kate Raworth over 2 years ago

    That sounds great, Paul, we hope it was a useful part of the conversation.

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    Louise Hård af Segerstad over 2 years ago

    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.

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