Donut Economics

Donut (or doughnut) economics is a modern method of addressing sustainable development, which combines the concept of planetary boundaries and the concept of social boundaries.

The model was developed by Kate Raworth as a way to assess the performance of an economy and ensuring the needs of people are met without overshooting our planets ecological ceiling.

An adapted model is shown to the right, and is essentially a circle with a hole in the middle – the donut! The central hole represents an area where people lack access to life’s essentials (food, water, housing etc.), while the outer crust represents the ceiling that life depends on and must not be overshot.

An economy, and business, is considered prosperous when all the social foundations are met without overshooting any element of the ecological ceiling. The space between these two zones is described by Raworth as being “the safe and just space for humanity”.

This addresses the twelve basic human needs, as agreed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

  • access to clean water
  • food security
  • ensuring and promoting healthy lives
  • obtaining quality education
  • flourishing economics to provide stable income and work
  • promote peaceful and just societies and communities
  • have a political voice and respect free speech
  • promote social equity through fair policies
  • prosperous workforces through gender equity
  • addressing housing to provide safety and shelter
  • build social capital and networks for fully functioning groups
  • Affordable access to energy

The donut economics model suggests that businesses should strive to be in the “goldilocks zone”; the area where foundational social goals are exceeded but the ecological ceiling is not breached.

The concepts of social foundation and ecological ceilings are not new to exploration and mining, although we see more visible efforts in these aspects in larger, well-funding mining operations.

We can address social foundation by working with communities to provide work opportunities and training initiatives, promote diversity in the workforce. Through these simple efforts, we can achieve social equity and allow all groups to have a voice.

Exploration does have an impact on the biosphere, but this can be managed so as to not push the limits of the land. Aeonian is working to measure our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce climate change and ocean acidification. We can also take steps to prevent chemical pollution and take steps to stop unnecessary land conversion.

For humanity to continue to prosper, we must not overshoot nine planetary boundaries as defined by the Stockholm Resilience Center:

  • exert controls over anthropogenic climate change
  • reducing carbon dioxide to prevent ocean acidification
  • control heavy metal or organic chemical pollution
  • reduce nitrogen / phosphorous loading in the biosphere
  • minimize freshwater withdrawals
  • slow land conversion from natural ecosystems to human or industrial sites
  • make efforts to decrease biodiversity loss, and where possible rewild and reclaim.
  • control aerosol release that can result in air pollution, leading to increased cloud formation or health impacts
  • taking care not to use chemicals that lead to ozone layer depletion