On June 7th, 2021, the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) of Greater Victoria organized A Doughnut Shaped Recovery for Greater Victoria, a speaker series event held in collaboration with Conversations for a One Planet Region, One Planet Saanich and the South Island Prosperity Partnership. The event focused on the ways Doughnut Economics can be explored and implemented by municipalities, local businesses, and communities within the Greater Victoria Region. Amsterdam has pioneered it, other European and North American cities are following their lead, and here in Canada, the City of Nanaimo recently agreed to adopt it. Greater Victoria came together to talk about what Doughnut Economics could mean for our shared futures. Doughnut economics is a theory coined by economist Kate Raworth, it can be understood as an outline of how humans can prosper in the 21st century. “The Doughnut consists of two concentric rings: a social foundation, to ensure that no one is left falling short on life’s essentials, and an ecological ceiling, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth's life-supporting systems”. It is between these two rings where humanity can thrive in a space that is both “ecologically safe and socially just.”
The Greater Victoria Region, with a population of about 350,000 people, is the capital of British Columbia and is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It consists of 13 municipalities ranging in size from about 12,000 to 120,000. This event explored how Greater Victoria can build a vibrant region that is within our social and environmental limits and how a recovery that is fair, inclusive and ecologically sustainable can be promoted. It centered around questions such as how economic growth can be propelled while remaining within social and environmental boundaries and looked at what we as a region value in shaping our recovery. The event consisted of a plenary session with three speakers, Andrew Fanning of Oxford’s Doughnut Economics Action Lab, the Head of Innovation for C40 cities in Copenhagen, Julia Lipton, and city councilor from Nanaimo who is currently implementing the Doughnut model, Ben Geselbracht. The Plenary was followed by a question-and-answer period and a breakout session with three groups—municipal, community and business.
Andrew leads Doughnut Economic Action Lab's work on data analysis, research, and iteratively improving our methodologies, especially for downscaling the Doughnut to places. His research has been published in leading scientific journals, and he shares ideas and findings in many different settings.
Click here for: Andrew Fanning's Presentation
Andrew Fanning began his presentation by asking questions within the local context of Greater Victoria. He posed questions such as, how can everyone in the Victoria region thrive? And how can they do that within Victoria’s natural Habitat? How can Victoria respect the health of the whole planet? And how can they do that while also respecting the wellbeing of all people? The principles of the Doughnut model are all drawn from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Andrew proposed the idea that it is pertinent to leave no one in the hole of the doughnut lacking the essentials of life. That we must be thriving and in balance, maintaining the delicate balance of the planet’s nine planetary boundaries while meeting the needs for all.
Julia is the Head of Innovation at C40 cities overseeing the development of support programmes at the cutting edge of climate leadership in cities. Previous to C40 Julia worked for the City of Sydney developing strategy and programmes to address energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings. And before that the NSW Government and social and environmental NGO's in Australia focusing on corporate sustainability and ethics.
Click here for: Julia Lipton's Presentation
Julia Lipton touched on the idea that urban centers are currently home to 55% of the world's population with a projection that by 2050 they will be home to 70-80% of the world's population. These cities drive consumption beyond city boundaries. The Doughnut introduces the concept of redefining what economic prosperity means, we must redefine a ‘good life’ and create resilient, sustainable local economies where people can thrive. Julia discussed the ongoing Doughnut workshops that are starting a conversation about the much-needed transformation. The Doughnut is a framework that encompasses much of what already exists and relies on mitigation strategies to be implemented so we can have continuous local and global prosperity.
Ben Geselbracht is a Nanaimo city Councillor and Regional district Director. He is an advocate for environmental sustainability and an economy that works for everyone. Ben is passionate about the development of the circular economy and recently, the doughnut economy and is working to apply these principles both in civic governance and his tree service business.
Click here for: Ben Geselbracht's Presentation
Ben Geselbracht presented on how Vancouver Island’s own Nanaimo has begun implementing the Doughnut into municipal policy. He discussed a framework that is being developed that prioritizes the community as an important resource for input. A critical aspect of the framework being developed in Nanaimo is the use of targets and indicators. These targets and indicators must be allowed and used across all city and community plans for the policies to work with each other instead of against each other.
Breakout Sessions and Next Steps
The event led to discussion and questions surrounding how the Doughnut could be implemented within Victoria and offered possible concerns and critiques of how this would play out. Many thought-provoking questions were proposed such as how we can ensure that the Doughnut image does not give support to the idea of a choice between economy and environment? Or, how the Doughnut model can be promoted with consideration to ongoing population growth in urban centers.
In the community breakout session of the event, led by Trevor Hancock, Kate Raworth debunking the concept of homo economicus was discussed, adding how community and interdependence must be prioritized above self-interest and independence. In the local context of Victoria, community must come together and help each other. When a community is involved in the conversation, they will support what they have built and feel strongly towards the success of implementation. At the city level, the community should be engaged while the community interacts and engages with each other.
The municipal breakout session, led by Cora Hallsworth, focused heavily on the importance of thinking and acting locally through using the Doughnut model to interact with and rely on local businesses. The lack of cohesion among municipalities on Vancouver Island was agreed upon by breakout participants, concluding that there must be some form of connectedness across the Island and its sustainability. We must consider the scale of the island and promote actions that connect the local and regional aspects as well as Vancouver Island as a whole.
The business breakout session, led by Dallas Gislason, looked at how Victoria can make a strategic choice around what is going to be done to reduce impact and create benefit for people. It is important to consciously shift and localize supply chains that function around planetary boundaries through connecting with businesses that support people living more sustainable lifestyles. There must be more circular practices that challenge the societal habit of always wanting to sell new things. These changes may not be asked of businesses to take on independently but should be based on a larger system change overall. Through looking at the larger picture, businesses will see the incentive of adapting to a more circular practice.
So, how can Greater Victoria take its next steps towards a Doughnut shaped recovery? This can be done by beginning the process of creating Greater Victoria’s city portrait, seeing where our metrics land within the Doughnut model and through using broader regional relationships to develop this portrait, promote action, and provide an understanding of how climate equity and social justice can fit together.
To watch the webinar, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM4Nizhag3I
- BLOG: Explaining Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth
- VIDEO: Downscaling The Doughnut to the City (11:21), Kate Raworth with the Doughnut Economics Action Lab
- PDF GUIDE: Creating City Portraits (44pg), detailing the social, ecological, local and global lenses of the City Portrait
- WEBSITE: Happier People Happier Planet Happier People Healthier Planet: How putting wellbeing first would help sustain life on Earth, by Teresa Belton.
- WEBSITE: Centre for Ecocities we have these consumption based emissions impacts available for Greater Victoria, Saanich and Victoria through work we do at the BCIT Centre for Ecocities (we’ve now done these inventories for 30+ BC communities). We find emissions for a community here double when you look at consumption-based emissions vs a standard inboundary inventory.
- PDF: Saanich One Planet Sustainability PlanAs part of One Planet Saanich we did a sustainability scan using the lens of the 10 one planet living principles. There is significant overlap in the approaches to the city snapshot. Results are here: