What is the digital tech doughnut?

We started this project believing that people in digital tech wanted to engage in a more holistic discussion on sustainability in the industry, and figure out how to take meaningful action.

We love the idea of using the Doughnut Economics model help us do this because:

  • It is a visually compelling image – that just about anyone can understand;
  • It places core human welfare at the centre – as well as sustainability;
  • It approaches the topic in accessible everyday language, with common sense rather than ideology;
  • It is general enough to be relevant – with enough specifics to really invite focused conversations on a topic not many people are used to talking about.

An overview of the Doughnut Economics model

Doughnut Economics describes the economy as two rings:

  1. An outer ring of 9 “planetary boundaries”, the earth’s natural limits for sustainable life;
  2. An inner ring of 12 “social foundations”, representing human life’s essentials.
The Doughnut Economics model describes two rings, the inner a social foundation, the outer the ecological ceiling.

Between these two rings is the Doughnut; a sweet spot. (The “Goldilocks Zone”, as one of our pilot workshop participants helpfully called it.)

The idea of doughnut economics focusing on “The Goldilocks Zone” was something I was somewhat aware of, but was really made much clearer to me.

— Chris Adams, Director The Green Web Foundation

The sweet spot is the space in which we must all live to stay within the planet’s natural limits and to ensure all humans not just survive, but thrive. The zone of not taking too much and not sharing too little. The zone in which we all must live if we are all not just to survive, but to be joyful in doing so.

In her book, along with the core idea of the Doughnut, Kate Raworth offers 7 ways to transform our thinking and imagination, from the old thinking of the 20th century, to the thinking we need to guide us towards a new goal for humanity.

We like to think of the 7 ways as the glaze across the Doughnut. It gets into every part and dimension of the Doughnut and is intrisic to the overall delight.

The seven ways guide our thinking and touch every part of the Doughnut.
A beautiful visualisation of the full classic Doughnut, designed by Natalie Horberg

A short history of how the Doughnut came to be

The Doughtnut Economics model was first conceived by Kate Raworth in a 2012 report for Oxfam. Later in 2017, she transformed her thinking into a highly influential book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist.

In 2019 the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) was founded to turn the ideas of Doughnut Economics into transformative action and create systemic change.

The open-source, co-created resources on DEAL have been hugely influential in this project as we have begun to apply the concepts of Doughnut Economics to the digital tech sector.

Keen to learn more about the model?

The Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) is packed full of resources, in all languages and well worth a look.

The tech doughnut

The Doughnut was written to explain the entire economy – and society. It makes little mention of the tech sector at all. But for our goals we feel the Doughnut offers an excellent frame for navigating this potentially overwhelming topic.

Our tech Doughnut is a work in progress landscape. A landscape that helps workers inside the industry discover how the digital tech sector can find itself in that sweet spot; doing the tech Doughnut.

The dimensions of the tech doughnut

Through our pilot workshops, we’ve done an initial mapping exercise to start unearthing how the core concepts of the Doughnut might apply to our industry, the digital tech sector.

The 12 social foundations (the inner ring)

The 9 ecological foundations (the outer ring)

The 7 ways of thinking (the glaze across the doughnut).

I was familiar with Doughnut Economics but I never thought about applying it to the tech industry, so I found the overall concept really interesting.

— Alja Isaković, Founder ResponsibleTech.work

Ready for the insights?

Get straight to the high level findings from our pilot workshops.

The 12 social foundations

The 12 dimensions of the social foundation are derived from the social priorities agreed in the Sustainable Development Goals (UN, 2015).

The 9 ecological foundations

The 9 dimensions of the ecological ceilingare the nine planetary boundaries defined by Earth-system scientists (Steffen et al., 2015).

The 7 ways

Seven ways to transform our thinking and imagination, from the old economic thinking of the 20th century, to the thinking we will need to guide us towards a new goal for humanity.