Doughnut-e1371361960446Last week we covered Ronald Rovers’ (broadly positive) views on Kate Raworth’s doughnut model of the human-biosphere connection.

This is a link to what, Bill Scott (NAEE’s Chair of Trustees) wrote back in 2013 about the idea when it first emerged c/o Oxfam’s Discussion Paper, A Safe and Just Space for Humanity.  

This is what Oxfam / Haworth had to say:

Humanity’s challenge in the 21st century is to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity for all within the means of the planet’s limited natural resources.  In the run-up to Rio+20, this discussion paper presents a visual framework – shaped like a doughnut – which brings planetary boundaries together with social boundaries, creating a safe and just space between the two, in which humanity can thrive.  Moving into this space demands far greater equity – within and between countries – in the use of natural resources, and far greater efficiency in transforming those resources to meet human needs.

And Scott’s comments begin:

“I quite like this model as it places “inclusive and sustainable economic development” firmly within environmental limits (Oxfam say: an environmental ceiling) which is where it’s located today.

This visual framework is a model of sustainable development and is welcome for its attempt at realism, and as it stands it will give comfort to those who think it’s the environment that gets all the attention in thinking about sustainable development, at the expense of social and inter-generational justice – a complaint that was apparent in the recent Guardian web discussions I commented on.  Indeed, it is a desire to bring some balance to all this that has surely inspired Oxfam’s thinking.

But the model seems flawed in a fundamental way.  In describing the doughnut, I shall say why I think this.


The comments have been updated in a chapter in the new Scott & Vare book for Greenleaf: The World We’ll Leave Behind (which was published on February 9th).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment