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  • Writer's pictureKerry Morrison

waking up to a doughnut economy

The pandemic has cast a spotlight on Environment, Economics and Inequalities.

Not knowing much about economics, Helmut and I wanted to bring an emerging expert’s voice into the group dialogue. We asked Paul Strikker if he would like to join us.

Paul is a recent graduate in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) and an early career emerging ecological economist, a branch of economics that acknowledges the planet has finite recourses and thus focuses on nature, justice, and time.

We wanted to engage in conversations with Paul because we were keen to learn more about ecological economics.

Issues of intergenerational equity, irreversibility of environmental change, uncertainty of long-term outcomes, and sustainable development all guide ecological economic analysis and valuation. 

Ecological Economics shares several of its perspectives with Feminist Economics including the focus on equality, sustainability, nature, justice and care values.

We know we cannot keep consuming at the rate we are because there simply aren’t enough resources in the world to sustain our current capitalist appetite.

An ambition of ecological economics is sustainable human well-being alongside the protection and restoration of nature and social and environmental justice. It is more than an ambition; it is a goal.

Dialogue with Paul shed light onto the world ecological economics and introduced us to the Doughnut Economy developed by British economist Kate Raworth.

She says it far more eloquently than I can write it, but to give an outline, imagine a doughnut ring. The outer edge of the doughnut ring is the limit of the planet’s life support systems such as climate control and biodiversity. There are 9 life support systems described as the planetary boundaries or the environmental ceiling. Through degenerative design we’ve gone through the ceiling and we are damaging the Planet; as well as ourselves and life on earth.

Back to the doughnut; the hole in the middle is the space where exploitation happens: exploitation of people, exploitation of nature and ecosystems, and exploitation of recourses.

To sustain a healthy planet and to protect and care for humans and the more than human life we cannot fall into the hole. We already have, but we can get out of this hole if we choose to.

To sustain a healthy planet and to protect and care for humans and the more than human we must stay on the doughy, sweet, cakey ring of the doughnut.

To sustain a healthy planet and to protect and care for humans and the more than human we must not exceed the boundary of the doughnut – inside or out

The bad news is: we’re not living in a doughnut economy

Capitalism, with its vile greed, extends beyond the boundaries

so too Philadelphia and Portland.

In one of her videos, Kate Raworth poses a challenge which has left me pondering how to bring about a doughnut economy on a local level - where I live, where I work. On an individual level, we can make choices and try to live and shop ethically and sustainably. This is what we have been exploring with Suzi and Chumpon. Suzi is charting independent, environmentally ethical businesses in London. Chumpon lives in a village that is self sustaining, containing all the resources (apart from Scottish Whisky) the villagers need to survive and thrive. But beyond individual choice making or being fortunate enough to live in a community that lives and understands ecological and social equilibrium, there is an alternative to capitalism and Neo liberal economics: The Doughnut Economy.

Now the challenge is: how do we put the theory into practice.


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