A recent Oxfam International Tweet that referred to “The Doughnut” caught my eye and I wanted to share the story behind it. Oxfam Senior Researcher Kate Raeworth penned a paper titled, “A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: can we live within the doughnut?”. The paper focuses on presenting an overall solution to the overwhelming reality that our world will soon house 9 billion people and cannot handle the 7 billion will have currently. The purpose of the paper is to “encourage public debate in the run-up to the UN conference on sustainable development (Rio+20) in June.”
The concept is simple really. There are 11 “Social Boundaries” which make up the center of the doughnut – including food, health, water – all of which were determined by governments participating in the Rio+20.
The outer edge consists of 9 “Planetary Boundaries”. These were determined in 2009, and are the crucial elements necessary to keep the world in the stable state of “holocene” – a state which the earth has been in for 12,000 years. We have already crossed through in three of these areas: climate change, nitrogen use, and biodiversity loss.
The idea is that as long as we stay within “the safe and just space for humanity”, all will be balanced and thrive. It was especially interesting to read the author write, “Who’s stressing the planet? The rich, not the poor“. According to Oxfam 13% of the world population do not have enough food, yet it would only take 1% of the global food supply to change this reality.
I think that the doughnut is a wonderful concept - albeit idealistic – and I don’t mean that it a negative way, because I consider myself somewhat of an idealist. It highlights what is important, and though there is so much that will have to change – not only in the way that we do things, but the way that we think - I am hopeful that the pattern of positive change and growing compassion which I see within my own circles and community will spread further and further.
What do you think about the doughnut? Realistic or idealistic?
This article was originally published on The Conscious Perspective on February, 16, 2012. Author Heidi Oran.