agenda for the city of the future

Amsterdam doughnut economy

'There are hundreds of cities and regions that are now looking at Amsterdam.'Ruurd Priester, Amsterdam Donut Coalitie

Thriving over growth: the doughnut economy is a compass for the 21st century economics.

These are the results of dozens of conversations, discussions and exchanges of Cities for Change.  Door uiteenlopende deelnemers en organisaties uit Amsterdam en andere steden in Europa.


The doughnut is a compass for a just, social economy that serves the well-being of man and planet. In short: thriving over growth. The doughnut outlines a social foundation and an ecological ceiling, the two rings we must not overstep in order to thrive. The social foundation describes our daily needs: food, energy, water, health, education, income and work, peace and justice, political influence, social equality, gender equality, housing, networks (derived from the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN). And the ecological ceiling gives the planetary boundaries we must observe so as not to deplete the planet as our only source.

Amsterdam is the first city to have embraced the doughnut strategy to inform its policy for a circular economy, aimed at 100% reuse of raw materials by 2050. That's a start. Because the doughnut is about more than simply circularity of waste and raw materials and extends well beyond a broad sustainability policy. It's about all aspects of our existence and well-being, making the social foundation an integral part of our economy.

Plus ...

The doughnut is a coherent, holistic model for the economy. The above is a hugely condensed version. The founder is Kate RaworthRead her introduction to Amsterdam Doughnut City and The Amsterdam city doughnut that she put together with her Doughnut Economics Lab.

'There are hundreds of cities and regions that are now looking at Amsterdam.'Ruurd Priester, Amsterdam Donut Coalitie

'Nobody really knows exactly how it should be done, we are building new structures.'Sumadi Bambang Oetomo, Platform Sierpleinbuurt

'Amsterdam cannot start with doughnut economics, without letting go economic growth as the primary goal and shift to an economy of well-being Najah Aouaki, urban strategist and economist


Recommendations to make Amsterdam a frontrunner in 21st-century economics:

  • Step away from the neoliberal view of humanity. The doughnut is a compass for system change. This includes a more realistic view of humanity: reciprocal, cooperative and mutually interdependent. Instead of the rational economic individual who is out for personal gain and success.
  • Move away from the assumption that growth is required – no organism in the world grows endlessly. The doughnut is a compass for system change based on a holistic view of the economy. There is no one technical fix.
  • The municipality fully embraces the doughnut. Policymakers in any way involved in economic or other urban policies use the four perspectives of the doughnut: social, ecological, local and global. Read all about it in The Amsterdam city doughnut or watch this 5 minute video how this interlocks..
  • The municipality fully embraces the doughnut, once again. With a regenerative (restorative) transition that reuses energy, goods and raw materials and respects the ecological ceiling. And a distributive transition that redistributes wealth in different ways, retains value in the city, fights extraction and inequality and lays the social foundation. With each design describing purpose, networks, governance, ownership and finances.

'Nobody really knows exactly how it should be done, we are building new structures.'Sumadi Bambang Oetomo, Platform Sierpleinbuurt

Which problems are the recommendations an answer to?

Our current way of producing and consuming and the assumption that economic growth is endless is damaging the earth, our society, ourselves and future generations. Scarce raw materials are being depleted. CO2 emissions are disrupting our climate. We waste food. Biodiversity is declining. Inequality is on the rise. Only a few benefit from the current economic model – large groups of people across the world are not getting their basic needs fulfilled, both world-wide and in cities. And the way we currently measure wealth, in terms of our gross domestic product, conceals all of this.

What is already happening in Amsterdam or other cities?

  • Melbourne is well underway to becoming a doughnut city, and is combining this with ways to involve the city community.
  • Also Barcelona is working with the doughnut strategy.
  • Tokyo the Danish city of Aarhus are taking the first steps towards becoming a doughnut city.
  • How Sydney, Berlin, Melbourne, Brussels and Amsterdam are progressing can be read in Designing the Doughnut: A Story of Five Cities. Amsterdam tops the list.
  • The Paris Metropolitan Region appears rich, with a gross domestic product that is 70 percent higher than in the rest of France. The doughnut shows a different picture, including one in six inhabitants below the poverty line, and women earning a monthly salary that is 24 percent less than men.

Continue reading, listening or watching

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Amsterdam doughnut economy

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