Make a city selfie for Enschede’s Doughnut Economy

Bison code: L.28371

This project stems from an initiative (originating from the GroenLinks party in Enschede) with the aim to explore how the model of a ‘Doughnut economy’ can be used to lay the foundation for a socially and ecologically sustainable development of the city of Enschede. Such a development implies a transformation at different levels, involving on the one hand changes in policy making, and other the hand local public and private initiatives as seeds of an emerging sustainable economy. This proposal focuses on the policy level, investigating how the Doughnut model can be applied to practices of local policy making at the city level.

Within the Thriving Cities Initiative (TCI), the cities of Portland, Philadelphia and Amsterdam have taken up the challenge by creating city portraits, using the Doughnut as a 21st century compass to inform a public discussion about what it would mean for their city to live within the Doughnut’s boundaries. In this research project we would like to take up this challenge for the city of Enschede. Our project focuses on the creation of a city portrait for Enschede on the basis of a methodological guide developed within the TCI.

The prime aim of this project is to investigate how to create a City Portrait of Enschede, by using four interconnected ‘lenses’, each one highlighting a different aspect of what it means to be a thriving city, that is, a social and ecological lens, for both the local and the global context. Each lens draws on the available targets for defining the Doughnut’s social foundation and ecological ceiling, both relating to the city’s local outcomes and its global impacts. It then matches these with the most relevant statistics available that give an illustrative and holistic snapshot of city life and its impacts in relation to those targets.

The overall aim of the project is to gather data which will allow us to compare for each of these questions the city’s desired performance to its current performance. However, the targets and data required to make this kind of comparisons are currently lacking for most cities. Hence, the research methodology includes three interrelated steps:

  • The first step is to identify the targets set by the city in relation to these four questions and to show how these targets may be refined and enriched in order to satisfy the Doughnut’s standards.
  • The second step is to determine what data is available to measure, qualitatively and quantitatively, the city’s performance with regard to these targets and to find out how a more firm and inclusive database may be established for the city.
  • Taken together, the four lenses of the resulting City Portrait are intended to inform public policy making about what it would mean for the city to achieve local aspirations, while respecting the rights and aspirations of other (and future) citizens of the world, and the living planet. In this way the portrait aims to help open up discussions about possible transformative pathways. Cities can also use the portrait for reflecting on the possible impacts and implications of initiatives and policies under consideration.

Cluster: Future Economics

This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):