To receive a briefing paper from Cllr Elizabeth Wainwright setting out the principles of Doughnut Economics and to also receive a presentation from the Impact and Partnership Development Officer from Exeter University. Policy Development Group to discuss how this, as a concept, can be taken forward for the benefit of the District.
The Group received a presentation from Peter Lefort, the Impact and Partnership Development Officer from the University of Exeter, with regard to the concept of Doughnut Economics.
Members of the Environment Policy Development Group had been invited to attend the meeting for this item since this was a concept that was also of interest to them.
Cllr Lloyd introduced the item stating that this subject was a good opportunity for Policy Development Groups to be more proactive in developing policy. Through the use of this concept there was an opportunity to translate ambitions into real opportunities in a sector where decision making was becoming increasingly more complex. It provided an opportunity for teams to work more collaboratively within a supportive framework.
Mr Peter Lefort from Exeter University had been invited to attend the meeting to explain the concept of Doughnut Economics and its relevance to Mid Devon in greater detail. Key elements of this concept were outlined by way of presentation which included the following:
· There was a difference between a ‘complicated system’ and a ‘complex system’. Complicated systems were not simple but understandable, a correct answer existed and resolution required expertise. Complex systems were not fully understandable, no correct answer existed and they required perspective.
· With Doughnut Economics there was a need to move away from a linear perspective and replace it with an attempt to view a situation more holistically.
· Within ‘the doughnut’ the outer ring represented the ecological ceiling within which existed the ‘safe and just place for humanity’. The inner circle represented the social foundation where such issues as food, health, education, housing, work, justice and political voice existed. Beyond these boundaries were complex issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, land conversion and chemical pollution, all co-existing within and circling ‘the doughnut’.
· Inaction was no longer a valid choice and business ‘as usual’ was not an option if climate change was to be addressed.
· Every decision would have a negative impact somewhere and there was a need to acknowledge this way of thinking in that we cannot control all of these systems.
· Economic growth was not always the ‘right’ thing to strive towards. There was no one right way to achieve something.
· Collaboration was key.
· An example was provided of a decision taken by Cornwall Council to introduce a cycle route showing the impacts of this decision on a number of areas.
Discussion took place regarding:
· This concept touched on all areas of the Council’s work and had a wider remit than that of just the Economy Policy Development Group.
· The ‘doughnut’ model had been adopted by Cornwall Council in 2019 and positive effects had already been seen. Officers had found it particularly helpful in helping to facilitate the decision making process.
· The model shown illustrated that there was a danger of ‘overshooting’ with particular ambitions. Competing priorities could present significant challenges. A way of tackling this would be to measure the health of an area and try to understand where the social flaws existed. Each decision should be looked at individually and assessments made in each case relating to the positive and negative impacts.
· Public engagement had been greater as a result of Cornwall using this model.
· There was a need to investigate how this could work for Mid Devon and to map out relatable examples that pertained to the district.
· It was suggested that the Economic Development team hold discussions with experts in this area as well as the Devon doughnut collective in order to investigate this concept further and bring relevant information before the Cabinet since this needed to be assessed as a concept affecting the Council as a whole.
RECOMMENDED that the Cabinet receive more information on the concept of Doughnut Economics and that this information include specific examples of how it could work within Mid Devon.
(Proposed by the Chairman)
Reason for the decision:
The Doughnut Economic model provides a framework to balance social and environmental needs and therefore may be of benefit to the residents of Mid Devon as well as the wider community.