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Event Summaries
February 26, 2018

Event Summary: Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economics

Henry Jackson Society

TIME: 13:00 – 14:00 – Thursday 22nd February 2018

On the 22nd of February 2018, the Henry Jackson Society hosted Kate Raworth, an economist whose research focuses on the unique social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. Ms. Raworth is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, and also Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. In her recent book, Doughnut Economics, she dares to take on the mainstream economics establishment and criticizes fundamental ideas that still dominate decision-making for the future. Instead of criticizing the past though, the book takes the long view forwards, identifying seven insights to help the 21st century economist bring humanity into the global sweet spot (a doughnut) that combines human prosperity with ecological sustainability.

During her presentation, Ms. Raworth tried to answer a question of how the economy should be designed so we could meet the needs of humanity. When talking about the basics of economic science, such as supply and demand, as well as inequality concepts, she advocated against making analogies with Newtonian physics, which many economists tend to do. The role and contribution of communities and households are usually ignored in general analysis but they do influence economy and are, in fact, sources of wellbeing. It is not the markets that add to increased inequality, said Ms. Raworth, but government investments and war. Putting self-interest above cooperation and being guided by false rules may lead to misguided policy-making, she warned. These false diagrams and curves, embedded in education and our understanding of economy, sit at the heart of the contemporary challenges and it is time to reimagine the economy. The solution could be found in pre-redistribution and power not only to accumulate resources but also to share them. As put by Ms. Raworth, the humanity needs to generate and restore resources, mimicking nature’s success and these should be the principles at the heart of the global economy. Another problem that she touched on was a false assumption of growth and how it was designed into institutions regardless of its effects, as well as social addiction to consumerism.

Doughnut Economics promises that the economic future will be fascinating by hand-picking the best emergent ideas – ranging from ecological, feminist, behavioural, and institutional economics to complexity thinking, and Earth-systems science – to reveal the insights of eclectic economic rethinkers.