Category Archives: CR & Sustainability

Why refocusing purpose is vital to building back better, post COVID

The spur for this post is a great opinion piece by Soli Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, which I belatedly caught up on this week, and which has caused me to re-evaluate a lot of what I’ve said and written in the past about purpose. Much of that – as will no doubt sound familiar to many of you – has been to encourage people to think about corporate purpose through the lens of questions like:

  • Why do you exist, beyond making money?
  • What do you stand for?
  • Why is the world a better place with you in it (or, conversely, why would it be poorer if you weren’t there)?

To that end, in my past life as a brand strategist, a popular exercise I used to run with clients was to get them to write their organization’s own obituary – an invariably eye-opening experience that forced senior execs to focus their minds on what they’d wish their brand to be most remembered for. But as Soli observes (brilliantly, IMHO) there’s a potentially fatal flaw in framing questions, such as the above:

Their in-built introspection.

Such questions all too easily drive conversation in the direction of self-service – about fulfilling your brand’s own destiny and defining your importance on your own terms. The more I think on this, the more it feels directly at odds with the need to drive conversation in the direction of service to humanity – one whose starting point is to reflect on society’s toughest challenges (as represented by the SDGs), and then to ask how are we distinctively positioned to help solve these problems of people and planet (profitably and, hence, sustainably)?

Comparing and contrasting these different directions, it’s not hard to see how purpose has, ironically, somewhat lost its purpose – or, at least, how a noble idea has ended up fracturing into genuine and less-genuine executions.

At one extreme, we have a host of smaller enterprises (e.g., the impact enterprises we work with through EY Ripples) and larger ‘born purposeful’ brands (e.g., Natura, Patagonia and the like), many of which have joined the B Corp movement and legally changed their status, so as to allow pursuit of a higher social purpose to come before generation of shareholder returns. (We also have other large organizations, such as Interface and Orsted, that have taken climate change as their cue to implement root and branch transformations of the core business strategy and operations.)

At the other, sadly, we have a much larger group of businesses who’ve created slick purpose statements as shiny new wrappers for business-as-usual. In changing (next to) nothing about how they operate, they’ve reduced purpose to the status of brand asset – and CR/sustainability to the status of afterthought – rather than the business strategy it should have been.

So, what’s Soli’s suggestion for steering clear of self-serving purpose puffery and refocusing on genuinely and meaningfully contributing to society? Thinking in terms of what she calls servant brands.

While your first reaction to this may well be to pooh-pooh it as ‘emperor’s new clothes,’ I genuinely believe there’s something valuable and distinctive in this. First of all, it sure as heck encourages businesses to anchor their thinking in the world beyond their own bubble. And second, it poses a very different set of framing questions for defining purpose – less about who you are and what you stand for, and more about who/what you are in service of and how what you do fulfils broader societal goals.

Though not precipitated by the COVID crisis, this shift from purpose rooted in self to purpose rooted in service is certainly accentuated by it. For, as Soli writes:

Put bluntly, when all of us are facing mortality, and terrified for our loved ones and society itself, none of us gives a damn what your brand stands for. Your essence is irrelevant. Your carefully honed statement means nothing… [T]he only thing that matters right now, more than anything, is to be useful. The only question worth asking today [and in the future] is ‘are we useful?’

Servant brands start by identifying what society needs most, then figure out how they can develop/channel core competencies to best serve those needs. Servant brands are open and honest – they share data, insights and solutions that can help scale and accelerate social progress, and speak with a truly human voice, rather than their words sounding like finely-tuned legalese. And servant brands are courageous – they have the guts to stop doing/making things that don’t serve the long-term interests of people and planet, and focus on innovating new products, services and business models that do.

Now would certainly appear to be an opportune moment for business-at-large to absorb and apply these insights. Again, not created by COVID, but certainly accelerated by it, a poll reported in the Guardian this week would suggest that momentum is growing behind another much-needed shift – that of moving from measuring prosperity in terms of the rate of growth to understanding it terms of people’s lived experience of it.

That poll not only found that 8 out of 10 Britons would prefer the UK government to prioritize health and well-being over economic growth during the COVID crisis, but also that 6 in 10 would still wish that to hold true after the pandemic has subsided. That such a large majority should favor prioritizing quality of life over purely economic indicators should lend more power to the elbow of those wishing to advance the vision of a wellbeing economybuilding back better by rooting policy- and decision-making in new goals that give primacy to long-term human well-being and environmental regeneration.

I’ll leave you with an extract from another great thought piece by Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of the B Team, which neatly integrates all of the above and more:

What if we now found the courage to reimagine and reset our personal and professional purpose to be of service to humanity? What if we agreed to a global set of imperatives to help guide the co-creation of a new social and environmental contract, one that left neither people nor the planet behind? What if we were brave enough to use this pandemic pause to reset our definition of success? What if we made sure to measure what matters, like the health and well-being of all life and the natural systems that help us thrive?

What if we reimagined private and public sector leadership to be gender balanced and diverse? What if we paused long enough to learn to manage our egos and embraced the fact that we are ONE, be it against this global pandemic or other challenges like climate change and breakdowns in nature, unsustainable levels of inequality and low-to-no trust the world over?

The leadership we now need is the kind that that is willing to answer these questions with bold dialogue and brave action. The kind that is ready to take a personal risk for the benefit of humanity. The kind that that embraces courage and humility in equal balance – knowing that while the road ahead may be uncertain, it is our responsibility to build back better.

Bon weekend, everyone.

Will COVID help or hinder progress on climate change?

If you’re looking for something to add to your reading list, research out of the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment – published earlier this week – is well worth a closer look. As you’ll see straight away from the title, it sets out to answer the killer question for most environmentally-minded folks right now – i.e., will COVID-19 end up helping or hindering progress on climate change?

For my money, the paper does a masterful job of painting the picture of the crossroads we’re at. It also does an equally masterful job of reminding us of the size of the challenge when it comes to the climate emergency – in case that’s gotten lost in the mists of time since COVID captured all the headlines.

To put that into perspective, consider that global greenhouse gas emissions might fall by 8% (2.2 GtCO2e) this year. Now consider the extraordinary set of circumstances that has brought that about, and that we’ll need to achieve similar year-on-year reductions every year to 2030 in order to be on track to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

If governments are serious about their Paris Accord commitments, then surely they must seize this opportunity to shape the future decade – to further ‘green new deal’ strategies for lowering carbon emissions, while also investing in ‘just transition,’ so that workers are able to adapt and thrive in a net zero carbon economy? To permit a return to the ‘old normal,’ and an emissions rebound, once lockdown restrictions are lifted, would be to increase the risk of triggering feedback loops that result in outsized and permanent damage to the climate.

Fortunately, this research suggests that not allowing that to happen is not only the right thing to do from an environmental perspective; it’s also the smart thing to do from an economic one.

Drawing on a global survey of senior central bank and finance ministry officials, as well as learnings from the 2008 financial crisis, economists – including Nobel prize winner, Joseph Stiglitz – catalogued more than 700 stimulus policies into 25 broad groups and conducted a global survey of 231 experts. On average, respondents saw a ‘green route’ out of this crisis as also being highly economically effective.

Win-win examples include investment in renewable energy production, which previous research has shown creates twice as many jobs per dollar as fossil fuel investments. They also include spending on retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, clean R&D, natural capital investment for ecosystem resilience and regeneration, and investment in education and training – not only to address immediate unemployment from COVID-19, but also to create structural employment opportunities from decarbonization.

Here’s hoping that the existence of the Paris Accord, and the national targets that have followed, make for a fundamental difference vs. the global financial crisis that came before. This time, because countries already have commitments to cut emissions, they have a framework that requires them to take account of carbon and incentivize a green recovery.

I’ll leave the final summing up to Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero at the University of Cambridge, who says this:

Shaping the national and global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a way that supports the response to climate change and other environmental threats simply makes sense. Not only does analysis suggest that green recovery packages deliver greater economic benefit, but investing appropriately in research, innovation, infrastructure and skills training, and matching that with robust institutional structures, will help create a fairer, more resilient, sustainable world with benefits for all.

COVID-19: another chance for a great reset?

Building on my previous post, it’s remarkable the number of column inches being devoted to the potential of the COVID-19 crisis to bring about long-term, transformational change. There’s a growing sense that, not only will we not be returning to normal anytime soon, but maybe we won’t return to the old normal ever.

Among the issues being thrown into sharp relief:

  • Work from home rules are giving everyone a sense of the daily challenges faced by many working mums (and dads), which will hopefully spark accelerated progress on gender equality specifically and flexible working more generally
  • The precariousness of many people’s livelihoods is once again shining a light on executive pay, with CEOs earning plaudits for cutting all or some of their salaries to protect against having to furlough or lay off staff
  • The importance of community is being highlighted like never before, hopefully causing the realization to finally dawn (on those it has hitherto escaped) that the health of business is inextricably linked to the health of the social and environmental systems in which it is embedded

The more I reflect on this (the last point especially), the more I wonder if my last post went far enough. The encouragement to think about ways of working that are worth hanging on to, once the crisis subsides, is a field of enquiry anchored in ‘what,’ when there are arguably much higher-order ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions at play here.

“What will be the new normal, post-coronavirus?” is perhaps the wrong question to be asking. A better one might be “How should the experience of coronavirus reshape what we value, and how we organize ourselves to deliver it?” – in other words, a question rooted in fundamental design values and operating principles.

The beauty of a question like this is that it can be applied at multiple levels – the systemic, the organizational and the individual. At the organizational level, it can help us to expand our mental model of ‘corporate responsibility’ – vital at a time when ‘responsibility’ no longer seems remotely adequate to capture the full breadth and depth of what’s at stake.

Indeed, as those smart folks at Volans observed in an email I received from them earlier this week, the irony is that ‘responsibility’ seems to be hitting the mainstream consciousness with a vengeance at precisely the moment when ‘responsibility-as-usual’ is no longer a sufficient response to the realities we face. As they argue (correctly, IMHO):

Change-as-usual strategies have tended to focus on Responsibility – or, in the financial world, risk. There’s nothing wrong with acting responsibly – in fact, in moments like these, we need responsible business leaders more than ever. But the focus on responsibility turns out to be only the base layer of systemic change.

What we now need is for business to embrace two additional Rs: Resilience, of course – a topic that has, rightly, if belatedly, shot to the top of every leadership team’s agenda in the last few weeks. And Regeneration – because, ultimately, no business can become truly sustainable or resilient unless it operates as part of a living system and contributes to the health of that wider system.

So, what might be the organizing principles of ‘regenerative capitalism’?

A good place to start, I’d suggest, is with the these eight, as put forward by John Fullerton, CEO of the Capital Institute, a few years ago. If these strike a chord, then you can find out more about them, and John’s research, in a more extensive white paper here.

In any event, the key point is surely that now is the ideal opportunity to use this crisis as the spur to ‘do’ capitalism differently – to reimagine what both business and government is for.

As for the former, I’d return to the British Academy’s definition of corporate purpose as ‘solving the problems of people and planet profitably, and not profiting from causing them’; also to the eternal wisdom of Charles Handy and these words from his seminal 2002 HBR article, What’s a business for?:

The purpose of a business is not to make a profit, full stop. It is to make a profit so that the business can do something more or better. That “something” becomes the real justification for the business. […] It is salutary to ask about any organization, “If it did not exist, would we invent it?” “Only if it could do something better or more useful than anyone else” would have to be the answer, and profit would be the means to that larger end.

As for the latter – as UCL economics professor, Mariana Mazzucato, argued in The Guardian a couple of weeks back – now is a perfect time for governments to seek to actively shape markets that deliver sustainable and inclusive growth, and to steer innovation toward solving the big social and environmental challenges of our time:

[It] is time to finally learn the hard lessons of the 2008 global financial crisis. As companies, from airlines to retail, come asking for bailouts and other types of assistance, it is important to resist simply handing out money. Conditions can be attached to make sure that bailouts are structured in ways that transform the sectors they’re saving, so that they become part of a new economy – one that is focused on the green new deal strategy of lowering carbon emissions while also investing in workers, and making sure they can adapt to new technologies.

[We] can use this moment to bring a stakeholder approach to the centre of capitalism. Let’s not let this crisis go to waste.

And with those last few words – wouldn’t you know it? – we arrive right back at an almost verbatim repeat of the final line of my previous post. (Spooky!)

Make way for the future of sanitation

There’s a saying in the north of England: “Where there’s muck, there’s brass.”

If I thought this’d mean anything to anyone outside the UK, I’d love to have made it the title of this new EY study, produced in collaboration with the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC). Roughly translated, it means that dirty work can be lucrative, which seems apt in the context of a piece that starts with the premise that there’s a multibillion-dollar economic bounty to be derived from human poo.

Yes, you heard me right!

As if it wasn’t scandalous enough that 4.2b of our fellow human beings still lack access to safely managed sanitation – and 830,000 people die each year due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene – we’re compounding this by missing out on a massive opportunity.

As the global population continues to rise, human waste is one of the few natural resources that will increase. Right now, trillions of liters of these valuable “toilet resources” (the TBC’s preferred term for poo!) go lost and untreated every year, when their capture, treatment and productive use could create a transformational sanitation economy worth an estimated US$62b a year in India alone.

Looking to shift the debate from why creating said economy is a good idea to how to make it happen faster, the TBC engaged EY to write this report, which shares insights into the practical and replicable steps that impact enterprises in their Sanitation Economy Accelerator program have taken to achieve scale and sustainability (several of those enterprises, incidentally, having benefitted from not-for-profit EY projects to help build their capacity to scale).

I hope you’ll find it as fascinating to read as I did to write. As ever, I found myself marveling at the ingenuity of some of these models – my personal favorite probably being Sanergy in Kenya who, alongside their Fresh Life toilets business, have built a facility housing a colony of black soldier flies that feed on the waste collected and upcycle it into high-quality animal feed and organic fertilizer.

As well as being a great example of circular economy principles in action (turning the waste from one process into food for another), it’s also a brilliant illustration of how social business model innovations can address multiple Sustainable Development Goals – in this case not only SDG6 (clean water and sanitation), but also SDG1 (no poverty) and SDG2 (zero hunger) by virtue of creating markets for affordable, quality agricultural inputs that smallholder farmers can use to increase their yields and incomes.

This and other examples in the report show that better answers to the global sanitation crisis already existthey just need to be scaled. And in sharing how Sanitation Economy Accelerator enterprises are doing it, EY and the TBC aim to encourage others like them to follow suit, and to stimulate the kind of investment that can help make that happen.

As the report concludes:

We sit at a critical inflection point in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development
Goal of access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030.
With the UN suggesting that achieving universal access to even basic sanitation
by 2030 would require doubling the current rate of change, we need to go
further, faster. In particular, we need to go further, faster in scaling the impact
enterprises whose innovative business models are reaching the parts that
conventional sewerage, waste treatment and processing can’t.

The business case has already been made — powerfully. And better answers to the
global sanitation crisis already exist in the shape of past and present participants in
the TBC’s Sanitation Economy Accelerator program. But unless and until the
debate meaningfully shifts from why a transformational sanitation economy is a
good idea toward how to rapidly scale and replicate the success of these enterprises,
the prize is likely to remain elusive.

That prize — estimated to be worth US$62 billion a year by 2021 in India alone — deserves greater attention and commitment to act. It deserves greater attention and commitment from governments and municipal authorities who can reduce the unaffordable public costs of sewered sanitation, while reaping huge cost avoidance advantages in improving community health. And it demands greater attention and
commitment from entrepreneurs and impact investors who can unearth huge
value, not only from serving the 4.2 billion people still lacking access to safely
managed forms of sanitation today, but also helping to tackle adjacent goals for
sustainable development, such as safe water, food security, renewable energy, and good health and well-being.

Building a profitable, sustainable sanitation business serving low-income customers
is hard, but as the examples in this report show, it can be done. From bundling
sanitation with other services to create a better, broader user experience, to
creating demand for transformed toilet resources, to becoming asset light to make
invested capital stretch further, Sanitation Economy Accelerator enterprises are
illuminating multiple pathways to greater efficiency, profitability and scale. And in so doing, they’ve already brought dignity and a better quality of life to millions of people.

With the right support — particularly innovative forms of finance — EY and the
TBC believe that they, and others like them, can bring affordable, sustainable
and safely managed sanitation to hundreds of millions more of the people who so
desperately need it.

If not now, when?

I received this passionate and utterly brilliant message from Giles Gibbons, Founder & CEO of Good Business, earlier this week. Naturally, I agree with every word, and it’s just too good not to share in full:

Dear friends,

20 years and counting of the ‘sustainability movement’ – of which we count ourselves a part – and what have we achieved? Our honest answer right now is nowhere near enough.

If anything drives it home it’s the summer we’ve just had. We don’t think you can have lived through it without having a ‘stop and think’ moment. 46-degree heat in Paris. The hottest July the continent of Africa has ever seen. Populism breaking politics in Britain, and exploding onto the scene in France, Italy, Ukraine – and the list goes on…

Too many people feel that the world is stacked in favour of elites at the expense of everyone else. And so the two main challenges of our day – climate change and inequality – played out on the global stage in a clear, present and in-your-face way. Even the FT and corporate USA have started to argue that capitalism as currently construed isn’t working. And that’s before millions of people around the globe joined the biggest climate protest ever.

This must be the time not just to sit up and think, but to take action. Businesses have been delivering slow and incremental change in the name of business responsibility and sustainability when what we need is a thunderbolt of transformation.

We can’t keep saying we’ve got twenty years to save the world because the time will run out. From zero-carbon commitments to the SDG deadline, horizons for delivery are drawing ever closer, not so the action they demand. In fact we think that unless business steps up to the challenges we face, time will be called on the sustainability movement. It’s not delivering the capitalism the world both wants and needs.

But it absolutely can. And there’s never been a more compelling case for it to do so. Not least because there is a massive new wave of will for change. For the first time ever consumers and culture are in the lead on all this, demanding action. People want to buy from, work for, talk about and partner with organisations that deliver bold solutions for people and society. And for every established business that doesn’t deliver against this there’s a disrupter that will.

The message is clear. If you want your business to be part of the future you need a step change in thinking and action. Steady progress on sustainability will write you out of history. The winners will be those that embrace transformative change.

And if there’s ever a moment to mark a new beginning it’s upon us – January 2020. A decade to meet the 2030 agenda for sustainable change. The moment to draw a line in the sustainability sand, and springboard into a new era of action.

We know this is anything but easy. But it is essential. And we believe that everything we’ve learnt and done over the past 20+ years of working in this space has set us up for this moment.

If you agree, join with us. If you want us to help, please get in touch. We’re ready.

Transform your business, transform the world.


Founder & CEO
Good Business

Could business hold the key to universal access to safe drinking water?

Imagine a life without safe drinking water. It isn’t easy. Most of us take for granted that we can just turn on a tap and fill a glass. But that’s not an option for roughly one in four of the world’s population — the 2.1 billion people who still lack access to safe drinking water today.

With half of all hospital beds in low-income countries occupied by people with water-borne diseases, it’s hard to overstate the importance of reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goal of equitable access to safe, affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

While the current rate of change isn’t fast enough to hit that target, some fantastic research by EY’s Wayne Simper suggests grounds for optimism, thanks to the growing number of impact entrepreneurs innovating new models for the scalable and sustainable provision of safe water in underserved communities.

That story of optimism is one that Unilever and EY were shouting loud and proud at World Water Week in Stockholm, late last month, drawing on a joint report based on Wayne’s insights, and which I had the pleasure of writing.

Co-signed by Kees Kruythoff (President, Home Care, Unilever) and Alison Kay (Chair of the EY Global Accounts Committee), How can a trickle become a torrent? shines a light on the critical factors influencing impact entrepreneurs’ ability to build truly scalable and self-sustaining Safe Water Enterprises (SWEs) with the capacity to bring safe drinking water within reach of hundreds of millions more people.

The market leading SWEs, analysis of whose businesses forms the basis of the report, are already serving more than 15 million people across Africa and India, and we may only have scratched the surface of what these, and others like them, could achieve with the right focus and support. Wayne’s research and analysis suggests this rests on recognizing three things above all:

  1. That the high fixed costs inherent in any SWE operating model mean that only SWEs that operate at scale can achieve true sustainability
  2. That there’s no “ultimate” SWE model that works best in all circumstances, which means that the path to scale depends on finding the best fit to a particular blend of market conditions
  3. That we need investors who are prepared to take a more balanced view of SWEs’ potential to generate returns — from a social impact as well as financial perspective — so as not to overlook promising and scalable models for safe water provision

Picking out just one of these themes, to give you a flavor of the kind of insight you’ll find in the report, it’s worth taking a closer look at the third point.

We’ve all seen the power of a “magic metric” to galvanize action, a prime example being how a single piece of data such as grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometer (gCO2/km) has transformed perspectives and behaviors across the automotive industry. The report introduces a new one that has the potential to create a similarly seismic ripple effect: Impact Return on Capital, or IROC for short.

In the case of safe drinking water, this metric represents the number of daily water consumers whose needs can be served per thousand dollars of invested capital. It’s an important measure because it opens up an entirely new way of looking at the capital efficiency of SWEs — one that properly takes into account the purposeful trade-offs these life-changing businesses make, often intentionally running close to breakeven in order to keep prices low and make safe drinking water as affordable as possible.

With innovative SWEs clearly so vital to reaching the SDG target of equitable access to safe, affordable drinking water for all by 2030, we can’t afford to overlook any model with the potential to accelerate that access. Combined with more the more traditional measure of Return on Invested Capital (ROIC), IROC paves the way for a more holistic approach to building and evaluating investment cases that can help guard against this eventuality.

For more on this and other insights for accelerating growth of SWEs, I urge you to read and share the full report. The health and wellbeing of more than 2 billion people could depend on following the advice within its pages.

In praise of doughnuts: restoring the environment as a key dimension of inclusive growth

As the great and the good gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, you can be sure that there’ll be plenty of name checks for ‘inclusive growth’.

Commonly defined as enabling as many people as possible to contribute to and share in the benefits of economic growth (or words to that effect), it captures the need for governments and business to recast our model of growth to one that works better for everyone – spreading prosperity, opportunity and reward more fairly; treating tackling social inequality and driving up productivity as interconnected; and rethinking our account of economic progress so that we measure not only the rate of growth, but also the quality of that growth and people’s ‘lived experience’ of it.

Not much for me to argue with there, right? Well, no, except for the fact that I can’t help feeling an important part of the equation has been left out.

That nagging feeling was brought into sharp relief recently when a colleague shared a copy of a report by Morgan Stanley, entitled “Inclusive Growth Drivers: The Anatomy of a Corporation”. In laying out the ‘business case’ for inclusive growth, it states:

In the broadest sense, inclusive practices can promote business aims in two key ways:

  1. Improved Operating Environment: Inclusive growth creates more prosperous, secure, healthy and safe societies, which ultimately provide better operating environments for business and investment. Countries with higher levels of inclusive growth are more politically stable and typically have lower levels of social resentment and social unrest.
  2. Enhanced Consumer Purchasing Power: By folding historically neglected swaths of the population into a growing economy, inclusive growth expands the customer base available to businesses. That benefit is extended by the better health outcomes and longer life expectancies correlated with reduced inequality.

It’s the second point above that sticks most in the craw, given the rest of the document goes on to say the square root of bugger all in recognition of the obvious environmental consequences of lots of people living longer and buying more stuff.

On the evidence of most viewpoints I’ve read on inclusive growth, this is by no means atypical. Quite the contrary, it appears a very common trap to wax lyrical about reducing social inequality while (consciously or unconsciously) neglecting environmental considerations.

It’s an omission I find totally baffling, given the obvious correlation between poverty and environmental degradation. Wherever they occur around the world, climate shocks hit the poorest in society hardest and, unchecked, the World Bank has estimated that global temperature rises could result in an additional 100 million people living in poverty by 2030. Surely, then, it’s as plain as the nose on my face that action to protect and restore the environment has to feature more prominently in the prevailing narrative around inclusive growth?

The great challenge facing us as a society – so that broader narrative goes –  isn’t only ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from economic growth; it’s also making sure, at the same time, that we don’t irreparably damage our planet’s life-supporting systems. In other words, it’s to generate growth that is both economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

This is precisely where Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics model – with its combined emphasis on raising social foundations, while not smashing through the ecological ceiling – runs rings (pun absolutely intended) round just about everything else I’ve seen and read on the topic of inclusive growth.


If this model is new to you, it’s worth taking a moment to absorb the elegance of the metaphor. In the hole in the middle, we are living in a state of deprivation, with an insufficiency of the goods and services we need to lead a good life; beyond the outer ring, we are living beyond what the planet can support; it’s in between the two rings – in the doughnut itself – that we find the “safe and just space for humanity.”

It’s time to restore the environment to its rightful place amid all the talk around inclusive growth and the doughnut shows us how. (I always knew they were good for you!)