In April 2020, The Netherlands declared that Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut Model” would be used as a starting point for public policy decisions addressing COVID-19 both during and post-pandemic (Boffey, 2020). With increasing concerns about the environmental damage caused by the pandemic, including the rise in demand for plastic products for personal protection equipment (PPE) and disposable bags for takeaways, Dutch officials have recognized that public policies must take into account the long term environmental effects that may come as a result of curbing the virus.
What is Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut Model”?
The Doughnut Model, designed by Oxford University lecturer Kate Raworth, is an economic model that puts aside the goal of growth. The model seeks to find a balanced economy that satisfies the social foundation, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, yet remains beneath the ecological ceiling, which consists of nine planetary boundaries. This is illustrated through a drawing of a doughnut with the goal being to remain within the “dough” part. This model draws upon several ideas Raworth discusses in her book “Doughnut Economics”, which condemns traditional economic theories and challenges governments to address 21st century economics with more contemporary approaches.
How has this been applied to Amsterdam?
Pre-pandemic, the Netherlands had initially planned on working towards a more circular and greener economy, but COVID-19 has been a significant barrier to these plans.
Despite this, they have recognised that they cannot lose track of the long-term impacts and have used the model to set goals that they would like to achieve post pandemic. These goals were inspired by four questions asked by the doughnut model. They cover social and economic aspects of an economy and identify its impact on a local and global scale (Mahon, 2020).
The Doughnut Model does not seek to provide answers to solve contemporary issues. Instead, it encourages policy makers to ask questions that represent a more critical approach which takes into account the consequences of their decisions.
Has it worked?
Currently it is premature to conclude as to whether the doughnut model has benefitted Amsterdam as we have yet to witness a post-pandemic world. However, the model looks promising in terms of approaching the future with a clear vision. By using the model as a starting point, it allows policy makers to stay within sight of the long-term environmental impacts the post-COVID world may bring. In 2019, The Netherlands “was ranked furthest away from achieving EU renewable energy targets set for 2020″ (Eurostat, 2020) and Amsterdam was deemed “one of the most polluted areas in Europe” (RIVM, 2018). Even before COVID-19, the Netherlands had plans to reduce their environmental impact, and the impacts of COVID-19 have only made it more difficult to do so. Therefore, the doughnut model helps set a robust foundation on which Amsterdam can build and recognises how interlinked contemporary issues are on a local and global scale. Thus, I believe that though the doughnut model does not necessarily provide answers, it can help economies remain on track to long-term goals that we cannot lose sight of during this global pandemic.