Meeting the needs of humanity within the means of the planet

“Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet.  This means ensuring that everyone has life’s essentials (food, housing, healthcare, political voice and more) while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we are entirely dependent” – a stable climate, fertile soils, freshwater, oceans with fish not plastics … Kate Raworth, a progressive economist, has published a book called “Doughnut Economics”, based around the image.

The ENVIRONMENTAL CEILING (the outer ring) consists of nine planetary boundaries, beyond which lie dangerous environmental degradation and potential collapse in Earth systems.  The twelve dimensions of the SOCIAL FOUNDATION (the inner ring) are derived from internationally agreed minimum social standards, as identified by the world’s governments in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.  Between the social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.

The Doughnut was discussed at an Energy Alton open meeting in November 2017.  It was a good starting point for discussion on big issues such as the need to limit population growth and human greed – unsustainable economic growth.  There is hope, though, from campaigns that have changed the world, such as the abolition of slavery and gay rights.

We welcome your comments and thoughts.

For more on Kate Raworth’s work see