June 22, 2023

Launching the Doughnut for Urban Development

Today we release the book "The Doughnut for Urban Development - A Manual."

Can Doughnut Economics serve as our guiding star for a more sustainable and inclusive way of developing our cities?

That is the belief of a broad group of experts and researchers from the built environment led by Home.Earth and EFFEKT, who today release the book "The Doughnut for Urban Development - A Manual." The book is a comprehensive manual for urban development and real estate to be socially and environmentally sustainable. The manual is inspired by renowned economist Kate Raworth, and it is the first time that the principles from her influential book "Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist" have been downscaled to a specific industry.

For our cities to be in balance, we have to become much better at uniting social, planetary, and economic sustainability. That conclusion marked the beginning of an ambitious two-year project aimed at translating the renowned economic model "Doughnut Economics" to the urban development sector, with the goal of providing the entire sector with a practical tool to work more holistically and practically with social and planetary sustainability.


Co-editors Kasper Guldager Jensen, co-founder of Home.Earth, and Dani Hill-Hansen, from EFFEKT, state:

The strength of Doughnut Economics lies in the model's ability to unite social, planetary, and economic sustainability into one model that emphasises balance rather than just growth. Therefore, we believe it is the perfect guiding star to steer the sector towards a much more sustainable paradigm, and we have written the book as a practical tool for this transition.


The Doughnut model fundamentally changes the way we approach urban development today. It consists of two rings that together create a doughnut. The inner ring represents the social foundation, ensuring that all people have a good basis for a decent life. This includes access to a healthy home and the opportunity to participate in social communities. We must reach this foundation to ensure a socially sustainable society.


The outer ring is also known as the planetary ceiling and defines the systems crucial for the health of our planet, such as the climate balance and our global biodiversity. We cannot exceed these boundaries – we only have the resources of one planet.


The goal is to be within the Doughnut, where the social foundation is fulfilled while the planetary boundaries are not exceeded. Here, we can create regenerative and equitable urban development that benefits all bottom lines, including the economic one.

Star economist as part of the project

The introduction to the book is written by Kate Raworth, leader of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, who works on translating the principles of the Doughnut into action around the world. And many are inspired by it. They include the municipalities of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, both of which have decided to develop urban strategies using Doughnut Economics as a guiding tool and inspiration.

In the book's introduction, Kate Raworth reflects on the importance of moving towards a regenerative and equitable paradigm in urban development and emphasises the need to maintain optimism even though the task ahead is urgent. She writes: 

Of course, time is running out, but I still have hope because the task is so clear, and it is still possible to create a balanced world. So, let's make the solutions irresistible and get to work.


Broad group of partners and researchers

Home.Earth and EFFEKT have written the book in collaboration with an extensive group of experts and researchers from Aalborg University - BUILD, the Technical University of Denmark, Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), the Danish Green Building Council, SLA, Sweco, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Vandkunsten.


The broad group of partners have made it possible to write a practical manual based on extensive research. "The Doughnut for Urban Development" is not a certification scheme or a to-do list for companies that want to call themselves "doughnut companies." Instead, it is intended to serve as a practical tool for guiding the construction and real estate industries towards a more sustainable and inclusive way of developing our cities.


Time is running out – action must be taken now

In the latest publication from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the research team behind the planetary boundaries and contributor to the book, their analysis shows that we have now exceeded eight out of the nine planetary boundaries. In other words, time is against us, and we are currently living on a planet that is no longer in balance. The social challenges in our cities, including a massive shortage of affordable housing, are also impossible to ignore.


In other words, action must be taken now, and the partner group behind the book hopes that "The Doughnut for Urban Development" can contribute to the sustainable transition with inspiration and a practical manual. For that reason, the book is made available for free at home.earth/doughnut, and the team hopes that it will benefit stakeholders throughout cities in Europe.


The partners thank Realdania for supporting the project and all the book contributors.

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