Doughnut Economics: “Intentional” Economics
by Crescia Lactao
Theory takes care of life in Doughnut Economics. Developed by Oxford University’s Kate Raworth in 2012, Doughnut Economics is a sustainable development theory and framework visually modeled as two concentric circles, hence the dub “doughnut.” To discuss Doughnut Economics and its significance today in the Philippine context, AEA organized a Zoom seminar last February 24, 2021, with speakers from the Ateneo faculty.
The theory of Doughnut Economics
To start the talk, Mr. Genesis Lontoc, a professor from the Department of Economics, tackled different classical development perspectives and criticized its addiction to economic growth and lack of accountability. According to him, traditional views of development “overlook its impact on humanity, society, and environment.”
Doughnut Economics approaches development differently. Its model recognizes the needs or life essentials of humanity through the twelve social foundations, and it wants to ensure the universal accessibility of these needs. Ideally, all of the life essentials of the entire population are provided, and no one is deprived of these needs.
The theory accepts that the consumption of planetary resources is necessary to achieve this vision, but it also outlines the boundaries of consumption in the form of the ecological ceiling. The ecological ceiling details the effects of excessive consumption on the environment such as ocean acidification or pollution.
Doughnut Economics addresses the trade-offs of economic activity to humanity and the environment and ensures accountability for these trade-offs by calling for regenerative measures like waste management.
Lontoc further explained the doughnut as a guide for development. “The key to development [in Doughnut Economics] is if the economy operates within the doughnut.”
Not beyond the crust where economic activity above the ecological ceiling would lead to environmental degradation nor at the core, below the social foundations, where life essentials of the population are not provided or accessed by some.
Development in the doughnut, compared to the carefree growth of classical perspectives, ensures “balanced growth,” and it reminds economic activity to be more “intentional.”
“What use is GDP growth if it is not felt by others?” Lontoc asked the audience.
While Mr. Lontoc explained Doughnut Economics as a theory, Mr. Skilty Labastilla from the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies provided concrete examples and applications of the framework and imagined ways it could be utilized in a local context.
He compared the doughnut frameworks between the US and the Philippines, which highlighted stark differences between the economic giant and the country.
US (left) and Philippines (right) Doughnut Frameworks. Taken from https://goodlife.leeds.ac.uk/countries/#United%20States
Both frameworks are evident of the contrasting results in the global doughnut framework.
Humanity’s Selfie. Taken from https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/
“Humanity is currently living outside the doughnut on both the social and ecological side,” said Labastilla. There are other countries that have gone beyond the crust or the ecological ceiling while there are also parts of the world that live at the core of the doughnut and are unable to meet their population’s needs.
This is not to say that most developed countries are problematic. Some countries have started being conscious of their ecological footprint. Take Amsterdam, the first doughnut city, as an example. Labastilla recognized the role developed countries have, and he hoped that it could create a changing “ripple effect.”
The Philippines, however, also has its own shoes to fill. Recognizing the inability of the Philippines in meeting its social foundations, he believes that dimension development should depend on the needs of the community. Thus, it is vital to have a clear understanding of a community’s realities, needs, and goals.
Labastilla imagined a localized version of the doughnut framework, an idea inspired by the Maori doughnut framework by the New Zealand natives. He presented his own concrete efforts through his working Filipino translation of the doughnut framework in hopes for a better understanding of Doughnut Economics applied in the country.
Working Filipino translation of the doughnut framework by Mr. Labastilla. Taken from the talk by AEA President JT Valiente.
He brings the same philosophy into his own teachings, more specifically the SocSci 13 curriculum.
Integration into Ateneo curriculum
Ateneo has already integrated the theory of Doughnut Economics into its curriculum in SocSci 13, which is taken with NSTP 12. Ateneans are ensured of an academic experience with Doughnut Economics in the core subject.
Labastilla showcased examples of student works in his class who were tasked to make a “social portrait” of the city they were assigned to. As each student was grouped into clusters, each cluster was assigned to a social foundation or ecological ceiling which the students were tasked to use in their assessment of the city.
A “social portrait” of a city is an infographic of the city’s targets and the actual realities of its population in relation to the social foundation or ecological ceiling. The city’s respective Climate Change Commission (CCC) helped provide students the data they needed for their work.
Labastilla is “proud” of the works of his students. Countries and big organizations should of course be called to be accountable for their economic decisions, but he believes that academic work is one way to help development efforts as individuals.
The talk was organized by a team of AEA members headed by Francis Paul Padit (2 AB MEC) for Ateneo’s yearly TALAB program. To read more about Doughnut Economics, you may visit Kate Raworth’s website here: https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/