What is the ‘Cambridge Doughnut’?

The Cambridge Doughnut is a tool for transformative action in Greater Cambridge, inspired by the work of British Economist, Kate Raworth.

The Cambridge Doughnut envisions a socially just world in which the essentials of life, like access to nutritious food and decent housing, are afforded to all. The Doughnut’s social foundation (the centre of the doughnut) sets out the minimum standard of living to which we all have a claim. The Doughnut’s ecological ceiling comprises nine planetary boundaries within which we must live to preserve a stable climate, fertile soils, healthy oceans, a protective ozone layer, ample freshwater and abundant biodiversity on Earth (see image below).

“Between the social foundation and the ecological ceiling lies a doughnut-shaped space in which it is possible to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet – an ecologically safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.” - Kate Raworth

Image of doughnut, showing the lower and upper limits.

Once completed, the doughnut will provide a dashboard of indicators by which to measure the health of our local economy (see examples of national dashboards below). The Cambridge Doughnut will show where the city is operating within safe ecological and social limits, and where it is underperforming. The doughnut portrait will not itself provide solutions but is a mechanism to guide decision making for key players in the city to help them identify effective approaches and priorities.

Examples of doughtnut graphs for the UK, Costa Rica and Togo

How will the doughnut create change in Greater Cambridge?

The Cambridge City Council is leading the way by agreeing to use the doughnut to evaluate council policies and strategies. We invite businesses, universities, and other organisations to do the same.

As  an open data initiative, the doughnut will be made into an online, interactive dashboard, accessible by all. We hope this resource will empower individuals with the knowledge they need to transform Greater Cambridge as employees, business owners, volunteers, students, educators, voters, activists, consumers and other agents of change.

Who will create the doughnut?

All of us, together! 

The voluntary Cambridge Doughnut Community Action Group (CamDEAG) and our partners will host online Hackathons, open to all members of the public, to (1) collect performance indicators and data, and (2) program the ‘digital doughnut’.

Separate story-telling and target-setting events will initially be open to residents of a single ward, as a trial, and will eventually open up to all who live, study or work in Cambridge.

Is this just research, or will this really help Cambridge?

The Doughnut is more than a dashboard of performance indicators. It will also contain: 

  • Stories that provide depth and texture to our understanding of local challenges and opportunities for flourishing;
  • A list of local initiatives, policies, social enterprises, and movements that are creating or have created transformative change in one or more areas of the doughnut; 
  • Short-term targets to hold key institutions accountable.

There are a lot of initiatives in this area, how is this different?

Yes, there are a lot of people and organisations doing good things in Cambridge. Our aim is not to repeat but to help pull together. In partnership with all key organisations and the voice of residents, we want to build the Doughnut so we can set our priorities and measure our progress so far. Then we can look to solutions.

How can my organisation, community group, school or business get involved?

We are keen to partner with organisations with similar values that are also seeking to address the issues of economic inequality, social justice, climate change and environmental degradation. You can support the initiative in a number of ways, e.g. through data sharing, funding, feeding back on our project plans, and sharing our initiative with your members.

If you would like to join us in helping to build the doughnut, or simply stay informed of its progress, please register your interest on the Join Us page.

How can I, as an individual, get involved?

  • Join the voluntary community action group and help us plan and deliver this exciting initiative!
  • Join one of our upcoming events.
  • Encourage your organisation to get involved.
  • If you would like to contribute stories, targets, or initiatives to the doughnut, please register your interest on the Join Us page, so we can notify you when the ‘Digital Doughnut’ is open for public input.

How is this initiative being funded?

  • Cambridge City Council has committed council officer support.
  • The community action group is currently seeking grant funding. Please contact us with grant suggestions at info@cambridgedoughnut.org.uk.

My life is already very busy, how can I fit it in?

We recognise that people live busy lives. You can choose how much or how little to become involved. You will be in control and can decide how you can contribute as things change. You will be kept informed and every action, however big or small, helps build the Doughnut.