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The selfie of our planet

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Here at 1HQ, we are fans of Kate Raworth’s new thinking around Doughnut Economics. If you’ve not seen the model or read the book, it’s essentially a snapshot of both the health of the planet and humanity.


The planet has 9 critical variables that we can’t afford to overstep. It’s how we measure the things we know about such as Climate Change, Biodiversity and Science by creating specific limits for each. This gives us an ecological ceiling. However, we don’t just care about the planet’s wellbeing.

As the UN Sustainable Goals show, there are also plenty of social criticalities like access to food, education and water that we need to worry about to keep humanity healthy and afloat. These are the 12 variables in the centre pressing out.

The net result is the ‘doughnut’. The green ring which is the ‘safe and just space for humanity’ to operate in. It’s a squeezed space but for us to be sustainable in more than just words, we need to learn to live in this zone and not have negative impact on either the planet or its people.


So, why is it valuable to businesses and brands? The genius of the model is it creates a great visual tool for sustainable decision-making, distilling so many complex sustainability issues into a single connected picture.

Imagine the model as a big round tablecloth in the midst of your decision-making. Is your business or brand doing the right thing and what, if anything, do you need to focus on to ensure you are not impinging on either the planet or humanity’s boundaries? When you add the measures of how we are doing against each of the variables, it’s like a snapshot of how the planet is right now.

In Kate’s words, it’s like the closest thing to a “selfie for the world”. Sadly, it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. Nonetheless, just like the best selfies, they are natural, not airbrushed and the truth of the personality is revealed.

It feels like we are reaching a tipping point where our consumers are not just aware of sustainability issues but their behaviours are changing. If we as brands are aware of our own doughnut of impact and can re-adjust our behaviours, then we’ll help the next selfie of the planet be a more positive image.

You can read more thoughts on Sustainable Purpose in Cue03 ‘We Did It On Purpose’.

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With thanks to KateRaworth.com for allowing the reproduction of her model


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