Today is the launch of Creating City Portraits – a methodological guide for downscaling the Doughnut to the city and turning it into a tool for transformative action.

The Doughnut is a compass for 21st century thriving – one that aims to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet. It’s drawn at a global scale, and ever since it was first published in 2012 people have sought ways to downscale it.

Over the past year, we at Doughnut Economics Action Lab have collaborated with Biomimicry 3.8C40 Cities and Circle Economy – through the Thriving Cities Initiative – to downscale the Doughnut to the scale of the city. In 2019 we piloted the approach in three cities of the global North: Philadelphia, Portland and Amsterdam. In April 2020, Amsterdam published the Amsterdam City Doughnut and adopted it as a vision and model for shaping the future of the city.

The City Portrait invites every city to ask itself this very 21st century question:

And this overarching question – which combines local aspirations with global responsibility – can be unpacked and explored further through four questions, or lenses, which together create the city portrait.

If you are interested in diving deeper into this approach, here’s a 12 minute introductory video to downscaling the Doughnut to the city, exploring how it can be turned into a tool for transformative action.

Since the publication of Amsterdam’s City Portrait, we have been contacted by people in cities, towns, villages, nations and regions, in the global North and global South, who – inspired by Amsterdam’s example – want to downscale the Doughnut locally, as part of transforming the future of the places they live.

Today we are delighted to make this methodological guide available, with the aim of ensuring that it is as simple as possible for changemakers to downscale the Doughnut in a way that is relevant and useful for their own context.

This first version of the methodology was developed with a focus on cities in the global North, due to their responsibility to act first and fastest in transforming their social and ecological impacts. Future iterations of the methodology will be created with a focus on the context and priorities of cities in the global South, and will likewise be adapted to other scales – from neighbourhoods to nations and beyond.

Creating City Portraits is published today along with some of the supporting worksheets used in the process, to illustrate how our team of researchers organised the information: we hope that these background documents will also be useful to others seeking to replicate and adapt the approach.

Supplementary data sheets

Supplementary worksheets for people who like data (you know who you are)

We welcome comments, suggestions and lessons learned from changemakers applying the City Portrait methodology in other places, so that we can co-create and continually improve its design and usefulness.

Cities that are members of the C40 and are interested in downscaling the Doughnut to their own context are welcome to contact the Thriving Cities Initiative (TCI) through C40’s Knowledge Hub, where the TCI will also make tools and resources available to all cities, as they are created.

In September 2020, Doughnut Economics Action Lab will (we can’t wait!) launch our website and collaborative platform, with the aim of bringing together like-minded changemakers who are putting Doughnut Economics into practice in five broad thematic areas:

  • communities
  • cities and places
  • education and research
  • business and enterprise
  • government and policy

We invite you to join DEAL’s Community Platform as soon as it is launched – and if you fill in this quick little form you will be among the first to know when it is live online.

DEAL will be running webinars, starting in October, for people who want to learn more about the methodology and we will hear examples from changemakers who are already putting the Doughnut into practice to remake the future of the places they live – from Amsterdam to Colombia to Costa Rica.  Do join us.