Skip to main content

Doughnut economy is an economic model that aims to stay within the boundaries of the planet. It is a sustainable model that strives to meet the human needs within the earth’s ecological boundaries. This requieres new thinking around the earths resources, meaning that they shouldn’t be exploited. The model was created by the economist Kate Raworth and is currently the economic model of Amsterdam (2021).

What is a doughnut economy?

The model is called the “doughnut economy” because it’s diagram is shaped like a doughnut. Meaning a thick circle with a hole in the middle. Within the circle, in the middle, is all of humankinds essential needs. For example clean water, education and healthcare. The doughnut symbolises the place where the human needs are met within the boundaries of the planet. In other words this is the “good” part. The space outside of the doughnut symbolizes an overconsumtion of the world’s resources. That space is where human actions lead to e.g. climate change and biodiversity loss.

9 ecological boundaries

In the model, the earth has mainly nine ecological boundaries. These are climate change, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution (nutrient pollution from fertilizers) and fresh water use. More so, land conversion (for roads and agricultural land), loss of biodiversity, air pollution and reduction of the ozone layer.

12 social goals

Furthermore, the doughnut economy is based on 12 social goals, in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs). These are food, health, education, income and work, democracy, social justice, gender equality, housing, social capital, energy and water.

The doughnut economy stands in contrast to the economies of today. The purpose is to create a “thriving economy”, moving away from the present focus of a constant economic growth. This links the model to concepts such as a circular economy.

The doughnut economy in Amsterdam

In 2020, Amsterdam became the first capital of the world to use the doughnut economy as a model. This was a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, as a means to strive for a sustainable economy. The municipality began working by examining how the city could create a “thriving economy”. Amongst many things, the city also investigated how they could exist sustainably with respect for the well-being of all life.


Do you know your carbon footprint?

With the ClimateHero climate calculator, you can calculate your carbon footprint in 5 minutes!