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In March, I wrote that COVID-19 needs to be a social tipping point in the way we act towards climate and ecological breakdown and only two (rather long) months later, we are starting to see what could be the seeds of real change.
A recent survey found that 91 per cent of the British public don’t want to go back to ‘normal’ after lockdown is over; over half have experienced cleaner air outside, 27 per cent think there is more wildlife, while two-fifths said there is a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began.
In Amsterdam, they are already taking action to ensure that their city can recover from the impacts of coronavirus by embracing the doughnut model designed by Kate Raworth, a British economist and author. This economic model is a way that people can thrive, while staying within the planetary boundaries.
In her diagram of the doughnut model, the outer edge of the doughnut is the ecological ceiling we must stay within to ensure that we don’t continue causing crises like climate breakdown, ecosystem collapse, dead zones, topsoil loss and air pollution; the inner edge is the social foundations of society, the minimum we need to live a fulfilled life.
This includes food, water, equality, jobs and education, and those who fall in the hole are the less fortunate in our society who do not have those things. Right now, we are smashing through the ecological ceiling, and simultaneously, there are people trapped in the hole.
The tasty dough is where we need to be – this is the area in which we can all live safely and justly, while in balance with the planet. The fact that Amsterdam is the first city in the world to implement the Doughnut Economic Model shines a light on what could and must be done to recover from the coronavirus crisis and rebuild our society towards a better future.
While Amsterdam is turning to doughnut economics, cities across the world are reallocating road space to people so that there is more room to social distance.
This is only meant to be temporary, but why return to a world of noise and metal machines when giving us access to our roads keeps the air clean and free of noise pollution, gets people active, improves mental health and allows communities to form.
We were a society overrun by cars, and now, in the midst of a pandemic, our city streets have been returned to us. We can’t let them go.
Because of COVID-19, we are travelling less, flying less, breathing cleaner air and seeing more wildlife from our windows.
The world is on pause and this is our chance to really change things for the better; to banish the old system of extreme poverty and excessive consumption and make a better one that benefits all.
To do this, we will need courage and creativity and community. To do this, we will need you.