The Doughnut Economic Model


The Doughnut Economic Model

A Guide to Redefining Sustainable Growth

The Doughnut Economic Model emerged as a pioneering framework for sustainable development and has little to do with donuts except that it shares a shape.

Developed by British economist Kate Raworth, this model endeavors to strike a balance between planetary boundaries and social thresholds.

The Doughnut Economic Model
Kate Raworth

What Constitutes the Doughnut Economic Model?

The model presents a unique visual framework: a doughnut-shaped diagram with two layers.

  • The inner layer symbolizes the social foundation, including essential human needs like food, water, and education.
  • The outer layer represents ecological ceilings, such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • The space between these layers defines the “safe and just space for humanity,” where societal needs are met without harming the planet.

Why It’s Revolutionary: Beyond GDP

Contrasting traditional GDP-focused models, the Doughnut Economic Model emphasizes well-being and ecological stability as true indicators of societal health.

This paradigm shift fosters a more holistic view of economic success, integrating environmental science, social science, and philosophy.

Practical Implementation: From Theory to Urban Reality

Cities like Amsterdam exemplify the model’s practical applications. By aligning policies with the doughnut’s indicators, Amsterdam aims to become a “Doughnut City” by 2050.

Businesses are also adapting, aligning corporate strategies to minimize ecological footprints and maximize social contributions.

Case Studies: Proving Its Worth

  • Amsterdam’s Circular Economy: Embracing a circular economy model has significantly reduced waste and increased material reuse in Amsterdam.
  • New Zealand’s Well-being Budget: Shifting from GDP-centric to well-being-focused budgets has led to equitable social policies and stronger environmental conservation in New Zealand.

Addressing Criticisms and Economic Realities

Detractors question the model’s global scalability and its idealism within current economic structures.

However, the ongoing shift towards holistic economic approaches suggests its viability beyond academic circles.

Enhancing User Engagement and Understanding

To enrich understanding, let’s delve deeper into the model’s impact across various sectors:

  • Environmental Impact: Detailed analysis of its potential to mitigate climate change and promote biodiversity.
  • Economic Comparisons: Contrasting it with traditional models to highlight its benefits and challenges.
  • Interactive Features: Infographics detailing the model’s structure and quizzes on sustainable economics can engage readers more deeply.

The Path Forward: A Doughnut-Shaped Future

The Doughnut Economic Model isn’t just a theory; it’s a roadmap for sustainable and equitable growth.

As more cities and businesses embrace its principles, we inch closer to a balanced coexistence with our planet.


The Doughnut Economic Model is not merely an academic concept; it’s a practical, interdisciplinary framework guiding us towards a sustainable and just future.

Its growing adoption and adaptability make it a compelling model for tomorrow’s economies.