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Stefania Pila: A Sweet Escape – The Doughnut Economic Model

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Already preparing for a post-coronavirus era, Dutch officials have formally embraced a new economic mechanism called “The Doughnut Model”. Its principles are meant to guide the city of Amsterdam out of the inevitable economic instability that follows the pandemic.

It is no surprise that economy functions on the basis of models, a tool used to simplify reality and guide our behavior through predicting it. Particularly, the doughnut model has been developed by the English economist and senior research associate at University of Oxford Kate Raworth and can be easily understood through the lens of our generation. The interior margin of the doughnut represents the inferior limit at which people can afford their basic needs in order to live a good life, as stated by United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The aforementioned social foundation is then followed by the outer margin, which is the ecological limit that prevents damages on biodiversity and the ozone layer, to name but two. What prevents further economic deterioration is the dough in-between: a sweet escape from what can potentially be a mess created by coronavirus. Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, Marieke van Doorninck, has expressed her optimistic view towards the model, stating that it has the potential to “overcome the effects of the crisis”. The municipality’s ambition towards implementing sustainability requirements as part of the new model are hard to be overlooked. For instance, it aims at reducing the use of new raw material by 20 percent, already working on more than 200 circular economy projects with businesses and organizations. Food waste, however, remains problematic not only in its capital city but in the Netherlands as a whole, with around a third of the total food produced ending up being thrown.

One may wonder: what other implications may there be that are not limited to the city of Amsterdam? One significant impact that the model might have is on the West African countries. The Netherlands is the largest importer of cocoa beans worldwide, with 92% of them having their origins from West Africa alone. However, the import is entangled with other social factors from that region, more specifically slavery and child labor, but also hazardous working conditions. What the model aims for is responsibility that surpasses the Port of Amsterdam, the largest port for cocoa beans in the world, or the borders of the country itself, with respect to human rights. Though the real outcomes of the model are yet to be assessed, it is clear that it nonetheless offers a fresh outlook upon the Covid-19 aftermath, both within Amsterdam and outside its borders.


Written by Stefania Ruxandra Pila, Amsterdam Chapter of European Horizons

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