Making a doughnut for London

4 min readJul 28, 2021

Cities around the world are engaging with the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries — which asks how we can meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet.

On Friday, we welcomed Kate Raworth and 160 other people to explore what this would mean for London to take on this ambition! From social entrepreneurs, museum curators, children’s charities, environmental campaigners, health foundations, urban researchers, civil servants, growth hubs, refugee cafes, theatres, consultants, B Corps, students, design strategists, social researchers, tech designers, storytellers to policy officers.

Kate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on making economics fit for 21st-century realities. She is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries and co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab.

You can see Kate Raworth’s slides and Chris Paddock’s slides.

1. What can we learn from beyond our borders?

Given how interdependent these challenges are, how do we connect them across boroughs? What can we learn from Oslo or Amsterdams experience of doing this as a whole rather than as a city of ‘components’ e.g. boroughs or regions within a city?

How could the doughnut work for developing countries which are still pegging for growth and trickle-down economics to fight inequality? How can we learn from other countries, like Vietnam which is so close to the “sweet spot” of the Doughnut?

2. How can we apply it to local places?

How can we ‘downscale’ the doughnut so we can do a doughnut analysis for a borough or for a community? There are examples of doing this at a neighbourhood level, from Civic Square in Birmingham to the “tiny house community” or in Buiksloterham.

What is the departure needed in cities, from the way they may have approached sustainability previously?

How can we integrate some of this holistic thinking into decision-making for organisations?

Given the rise of central ring-fencing, how can local councils take a holistic approach if our finances are tied up before we see them?

3. What sectors should we apply the Doughnut to?

Could reforming London’s financial system be a part of implementing the doughnut in this city?

Which sectors of the economy provide the best medium-term potential for ‘circularity’? Waste management is an obvious one and one that councils and cities could take a real lead on. The capability shift this would require is massive but it feels like it must be possible.

4. How do we get people involved?

Have can we bring people on board with regenerative economics who are sceptical or unaware, and perceive the consumption model as the best option?

One of the participants, Matthew Kalman Mezey argued that “A big challenge still is that the majority of population values/motivations segments don’t resonate with green messages: — but there are ways to reach all the population segments. Just don’t expect the same message to work for everyone.”

Given the sheer scale and urgency of the transition, do we need to have a top-down state-led and directive approach in the short to medium term — to get us over the hill — but that the ultimate goal should be to decentralize and distribute power? Whilst it’s instinctively uncomfortable, it’s hard to argue given current environmental trends.

How could we take the idea of Doughnut back to the residents for them to fully understand and feel involved ( more in relation to local businesses)?

How can we involve children & young people in this, taking inspiration from what Children England did with getting them to explore the welfare state

Help shape the London Policy & Strategy Network

If you want would like to share ideas on themes and speakers for next year’s sessions, if you’ve got 5 minutes, grab a cuppa and fill in this short survey.

You can find other sessions coming up here.

You can see other videos from the London Policy & Strategy Network sessions below




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese