Is there a place for Doughnut economics in our capitalistic system?

I remember when I first learned about the theory of doughnut- economics designed by the economic Kate Raworth. I found it so fascinating, and felt like it was tackling the core of our capitalistic problems. It made me optimistic, at the same time very skeptical. The doughnut is a visual metaphor for a circular economic system.

Lets break it down

Doughnut economics proposes and economical mindset to meet all human needs within certain boundaries. The goal is to get in the doughnut and to carryout our businesses and systems within it, while thriving. Overall it is a circular way to live our life in every aspects.

The doughnut is divided into five layers:

  1. The center of the circle: Implies critical needs for human-beings. It is essential elements for a safe and fair life.
  2. The first circle: «Social foundations»- our basic needs are met.
  3. The second circle: «The safe space»- Where it is safe and nice for everybody. This is the place we need to look for solutions.
  4. The third circle: This is the earths organic limits. It is supposed to illustrate the organic stress our planet is experiencing.
  5. Outside the circle: Out final limits. If we violate this boundaries. Our planet, our home will shut down.

Principles of Practice:

  • Change the goal
    • Meet the needs of all humans within the planets boundaries. Align your organization purpose, networks, economics and owner-ship with this goal.

  • See the bigger picture
    • Recognize the potential roles of the household, the commons, the market and state- and their many synergies- in transforming economics.

  • Nurture human nature
    • Promote diversity, participation and colaberation. stregnthen community networks and work with high trust. Care for eachothers wellbeing.

  • Think in systems
    • Experiment, learn, adapt, evolve and aim for continuous improvement. Be alert to dynamic effects, feedback, loops and tipping points.

  • Design to distribute
    • Work in the spirit of open design and share the value created with all who co-created it. Be aware of power and seek to redistribute it to improve equality amongst stakeholders. More solidarity.

  • Create to regenerate
    • Aim to work with and within the cycles of the living world. be a sharer, repairer, regenerator, steward. Reduce travel, minimize flights, be climate and energy smart. Design for circular not linear.

  • Aim to thrive rather then growth
    • Don’t let growth become a goal in itself. Know when to let the work spread out via others rather than scale up in size. Organic growth of the company.

  • Be strategic in practice
    • Go where the energy is- but always ask whose voice is left out. Balance openness with integrity, so that the wrk spreads without capture. Share back learning and innovation to unleash the power of peer-tp-peer inspiration.


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Kate Raworth.

Is it possible?

The discussions are floating around the model, and it is in its place to be critical and rise some questions in relation to it. It is often a problem that many theoretical models of different systems don’t work the way it is suppose to in practice.

In many ways the doughnut represent the definition of sustainability and putting it into clear and specific contexts: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” – United Nations Brundtland Commission(1987)

In addition to the five layers illustrated and the Principles of Practice, it covers multiple issues to be solved. Critical issues like overproduction, as well as consumerism and overpopulation . It does not present a solution but rather a system where solutions can be found.

Are the human-being by its nature capable to show more solidarity and be less focused on financial growth, and growth in general?

When questions if the human nature is capable of being less self-centered. I feel like people tend to look at developed and modern societies. When I think of a community that is based on solidarity and unity, as well as a genuine approach to nature, my mind often goes to other parts of the world where people live in one with nature. Something we have been doing for many years, but the last decays it is very few that maintain this practice. Some might say the model cant compete with the capitalistic drive to grow.

We have historical proof for both of the arguments. Looking at different communities thru the history we have among other systems-> E.g. Communism, that in my opinion presents a very nice theory but has yet to work in practice.

Combining modern world with the knowledge and science we have within it together with the qualities of unity and respect for nature from many of the tribes and natives communities I believe would make a recipe for the doughnut model´s criteria.

I do believe that the focus on sustainability, climate and ethical businesses will unintentionally make us approach the doughnut. The more relevant question will be if we will reach the doughnut in time.

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