Bringing Doughnut Economics to Cambridge

The Cambridge Doughnut Economic Action Group (DEAG) was recently formed to implement the principles of Doughnut Economics in Cambridge. Duncan explains more:

I recently became involved with a newly formed community organisation called Cambridge DEAG. DEAG stands for Doughnut Economics Action Group. This is a volunteer group who are interested in the principles of Doughnut Economics, as described in the book by the same name by Kate Raworth. There is not only a shared interest in these ‘new economic models’, but also a commitment to implement them in Cambridge, which has been inspired by Amsterdam’s adoption of them.

The essence of Doughnut Economics is that there is both an ‘ecological ceiling’; the planetary boundaries we must keep within in order to preserve our world, and a ‘social foundation’; a minimum standard of living and human rights which every person should be able to experience (see Figure below). These various indicators are visually portrayed as two concentric circles, which resemble a ring doughnut, hence ‘doughnut’ economics. The doughnut can be used as an analysis tool for measuring how a nation, city, or community is performing against these social and environmental indicators, the visual representation of which is known as a ‘doughnut portrait’.

Image of doughnut, showing the lower and upper limits.

Cambridge DEAG is going to be working closely with Cambridge City Council in order to produce a doughnut portrait for Cambridge. The project, which is likely to take place over a 12-18 month period, will comprise of a series of workshops and community engagement events in order to collect data and ascertain particular areas of need. This information will used to create an interactive city portrait, which will be accessible to all Cambridge residents, which will help people understand how well our city is performing and highlight areas where we need to improve. And the exciting part is that this tool can then be used to engage stakeholders in transformative action. The tool developed by DEAG will allow organisations to review their policies and strategies against the doughnut. Those who make the pledge to commit to operating within the doughnut are invited to join the ‘Doughnut Coalition’, a cross-sector group of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and other organisations committed to advancing the city toward a Doughnut Economy. Cambridge DEAG are also partnering with organisations such as Cambridge 2030 to ensure that this transformative action occurs. 

I’ve been truly impressed by the speed with which Cambridge DEAG has progressed. I was introduced to the groups ‘leader’ (for want of a better word; it is an egalitarian organisation) Paul Paxton in June, when it was still a fledgling organisation, but it already has an active membership of nearly 30 people, along with an action plan. My personal involvement with the group is as coordinator of the ‘food’ working group. I look forward to seeing the impact that the Cambridge DEAG has on the attention and activity of food SMEs in Cambridge, particularly those that are genuinely committed to environmental sustainability and a socially just economy. If you have an interest in alternative economic models, or social and environmental issues, and want to contribute to this very worthy project there will be many opportunities for you to do so. You could become a member of Cambridge DEAG yourself (see the ‘Join Us’ page on the project’s website: https://cambridgedoughnut.org.uk/), participate in one of the, or their upcoming events (see ‘Events’ page), or perhaps you work for an organisation with whom the group could engage when the time comes for transformative action.

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