What would it be like living inside a doughnut? Kate Raworth developed this idea in an economic sense.
As we can see in the diagram above, Kate Raworth offers a brand new view on economics and on sustainable development. In the central hole, we find the cornerstones that are key in achieving what she calls “social foundation”.
Reaching social foundation means ending human deprivation by guaranteeing to the global population the coverage of their basic needs, to create the safe and justice space for humanity in the center of the diagram.
Once the social foundation is attained, the social boundary is created. In this way, people would live in “the safe and just space for humanity”. Nonetheless, living in that space requires the establishment of a new boundary: the planetary one. It’s necessary to reach social the foundation without breaching the environmental ceiling in order to obtain actual sustainable development without causing environmental degradation. So, planetary and social boundaries must always be in balance.
This is the challenge that the leaders of the 21st century must face: reaching equity for all whilst avoiding human deprivation with the limited resources that the planet offers and, at the same time, respecting the environment.
As explained by Raworth, the social foundation can be achieved without crossing planetary boundaries. For example, 13% of the global population is suffering from hunger and this situation could end with only 1% of global food supply; 21% of the people live with less than $1.25 per day. To bring this situation to an end, it would require just 0.2% of the global income.
There is a lot of work to do. The social foundation needs a big amount of work to be done on it and the environmental ceiling is being broken by human action, the loss of biodiversity and the use of nitrogen. Wealthy countries are making an excessive use of the resources that are creating an unsustainable lifestyle that is leading the world towards increasing inequality and rising environmental stress.
Policies carried out until now to eradicate poverty should be reconsidered as the rise of GDP has not affected those living in poverty and this rise has had, as a consequence, the degradation of natural resources.
So, living inside the doughnut requires more efficiency and equity in the distribution both of income and resources. Raworth leaves the following question: is the rise of GDP the tool that will allows us to live within the doughnut or is a new vision on economic development necessary. It should make us think about what prosperity means and what price do we want to pay for it now and in the next generations.
Kate Raworth has compared this analysis of development and the future of the world alongside the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the Open Working Group of the General Assembly.
She states that the Open Working Group’s proposed SDGs include all the items she lists as required to achieve the social foundation except for the one related to “voice” (understood as democracy) which she considers has been placed on the secondary level of a target. However there are other opinions more optimistic including the one expressed by Clem McCartney of the Shared Societies Project, who commented on Raworth’s post in the Intermon Oxfam blog that “voice” was well-treated in SDGs as long as it was applied clearly and without ambiguities and pointing out that it also mentioned women’s participation, stressing the importance of voice to achieve the social foundation.
So, we have to decide between eating the doughnut or living within it.