If you have never studied economics (or even if you have!), you might wonder why there is an economic project being driven by Inland Northwest for Sustainable Development.
To understand this, it is important to know what economics is. The first use of the term economics came from the philosopher Xenophon and means ‘household management’. If you study economics, you will likely learn a definition of the term that looks something like this:
“If an economic system is going to be sustainable in the long run, it is going to need to mirror the patterns and principles that exist in all living systems in the natural world.” -John Fullerton
The term "regenerative" describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials.
Distributive Economics is an economic paradigm which promotes the equitable distribution of wealth through a combination of: open design (of products, processes, services, and other economically significant information), Flexible Fabrication, and Open Business Models, towards replicability.
A regenerative and distributive economy is the application of Nature’s laws and patterns of systemic health , self organization, and self renewal to the vitality of socio economic systems which are distributed equitably to the vested surrounded community.
Examples of regenerative and distributive community economic projects include:
At its core, economics is about the goals we set for ourselves, our families, communities, cities, states and internationally, and how we go about achieving those goals with initiative and resources. We are all economists....But we, as aspiring changemakers, have a particular responsibility to think carefully about goals and how to manage resources -- materials, people, and money -- to achieve them.
The Doughnut Economics model can help our community to do that, funneling all our efforts into a holistic path and compass, just like it is doing now for Amsterdam.
In early 2020, the city of Amsterdam made headlines by adopting a new framework, called the Doughnut Economics model, to guide its policies. Later that same year, the Copenhagen Kommune indicated that it would consider this framework to direct city development. There is a movement for other ‘Doughnut’ cities as well, including Cambridge, Philadelphia, Portland, Brussels, Berlin and many more. There are small communities and even entire nations, like Costa Rica, adopting the Doughnut model as their response to COVID 19 recovery as well as the the Climate crisis.
The Doughnut Economics model was built on the Planetary Boundaries framework developed by a group of renowned scientists led by Johan Rockström and Will Steffan in 2009. This framework defined nine environmental processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system. The scientists proposed that there are limits, or boundaries, on the human disturbance of those natural systems. If we cross those limits we can cause large-scale, sudden and irreversible environmental changes that may affect humans’ ability to thrive or even survive.
So the Planetary Boundaries model helps us to see where we are putting too much pressure on Earth systems with our activities. The radar chart in Figure 3 shows these nine processes.
In orange, you can see the areas where we are at increasing / high risk of overstepping the planet’s limits: in biogeochemical (nitrogen and phosphorus) flows, land use, climate change, and biosphere integrity (biodiversity).
While the Planetary Boundaries model gives us a framework for thinking about protecting the environment, it is not well-suited to considering human needs in the context of the planet’s resources.
The image above reveals the current state of humanity and our planetary home: think of it as humanity’s ‘selfie’ in the early days of the 21st century (between 2009-2014).
Each dimension is measured, where possible, with 1 or 2 indicators, and the red wedges show the extent of shortfall and overshoot of the Doughnut’s social and planetary boundaries.
It shows us that millions of people still fall short on all 12 of the social dimensions, and that humanity has already overshot at least four planetary boundaries (air pollution and chemical pollution are currently unquantified).
To achieve the 21st century goal of meeting the needs of all within the means of the living planet means eliminating all of the red from the Doughnut diagram, and this must be done from both sides at the same time.
Both the outer ring of the planetary boundaries and the hole of humanity’s shortfall gives us “Humanity’s Selfie,” combining where we are next to where we need to be.
Figure 4. The Doughnut Economics (Raworth "What on Earth")
In 2020, Amsterdam came up with a question to pose to their community members,
”How can our city be a home to thriving people in a thriving place while respecting the well being of all people and the health of the whole planet?”
This started a global framework for Cities, Small Communities and even nations to begin using the Doughnut model to come out of the Pandemic strong and resilient.
Collaboratively we can use the same question to move forward in a recovery response to COVID-19 that joins us together toward the common goal of Thriving Communities.
This begins with a Community Portrait, a reflection, to discover where we are through the lens of the doughnut.
COVID 19 impacted the entire world and we are no exception. From underfed students and families to unemployment; from civil unrest to political discord; We’ve been through a lot together.
How do we begin to grasp where we are now? What were the challenges we experienced or still are experiencing both because of and prior to COVID 19...As individuals, as businesses, as organizations, as a community? What could help us to meet those challenges And where is the gap between?
Breaking ourselves down into:
all of whom form our community...we can begin to shape a portrait through 4 lenses from which to view ourselves.
What would it mean for the people of the
Inland Northwest to Thrive?
What would it mean for the Inland Northwest to thrive within their natural habitat?
What would it mean for the people of the Inland Northwest to respect the wellbeing of people worldwide?
What would it mean for the people of the Inland Northwest to respect the whole planet?
This is a where our doughnut scales down to be custom to our community and literally comes alive. Plugging where we are (i.e. our Community Portrait) as well as all that we are already doing into a single interface that can show us our progress will allow us to watch our own community stories come alive with our own transformative action, impact and movement toward our targets to stay within the safe and just space of the ring we form Thriving Inland Northwest Communities.
In the short video below, Kate Raworth, the creator of the Doughnut model, explains the concept and how Amsterdam is using it to guide its urban development.
The Nine Planetary Boundaries. Stockholm Resilience Centre, 2020, www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries/planetary-boundaries/about-the-research/the-nine-planetary-boundaries.html.
Raworth, Kate. Doughnut Economics. Penguin Random House, 2017.
Raworth, Kate. “A Doughnut for the Anthropocene: Humanity's Compass in the 21st Century.” The Lancet Planetary Health, vol. 1, no. 2, 2017, doi:10.1016/s2542-5196(17)30028-1.
Raworth, Kate et al. Doughnut Economics Action Lab, 2020, Amsterdam City Doughnut, www.kateraworth.com/2020/04/08/amsterdam-city-doughnut/.
Raworth, Kate. “What on Earth Is the Doughnut?...” Kate Raworth: Exploring Doughnut