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As part of our 9th year of research on planetary limits and social thresholds, we are showcasing how nations are using doughnut thinking.In particular, we look at how the global limits and thresholds can be reviewed, adapted and assessed at a country scale.

This blog reviews the 2014 Scottish Doughnut report [1] which was conducted by Oxfam and informed by existing research and literature.

Social thresholds

The 2014 Scottish Doughnut adapted a number of the social thresholds to reflect national contexts, for instance:

*Energy: measured in % of Scottish households in fuel poverty (46%).

*Peace and justice: Measured in Scotland’s risk of victimisation (17%).

*Housing: Measured in % of Scottish households that are overcrowded (3%).

The assessment also incorporated additional social thresholds which were pertinent to Scotland including:

*Local environment: % of Scottish people who access the natural environment less than once per week (58%).

*Sense of support: % of Scottish people who have little or no support in times of need (8%).

Planetary limits

For planetary limits, the report draws upon the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s work to downscale the global planetary boundaries to national level [2]. Key findings included:

*Climate change: Scotland exceeded boundary by 479%.

*Land-use change: Scotland exceeded boundary by 250%.

*Nitrogen cycle: Scotland exceeded boundary by 317%.

The doughnut report also adapts some of the global environmental limits to reflect available Scottish data and priorities, for instance:

*Air quality: 12% of Scotland’s roadside sites failed to meet WHO recommended limits.

*Ocean health: 53% of Scottish fish harvested unsustainably.


What does this mean?

Whilst nearly 6 years old now, the Scottish Doughnut provides a tangible example of how a nation can downscale the doughnut to provide a holistic assessment of social and environmental performance against critical limits and thresholds. This sets the challenge for businesses to “downscale the doughnut to the scale of your organisation?”

Article 13 have been working with companies and brands around the world to integrate planetary limits and social thresholds into their organisation using doughnut thinking to:

*Identify an organisation’s real sustainability priorities.

*Develop meaningful measurement indicators – based on global limits and thresholds.

*Set proper (context-based) targets – to deliver what the world needs.

*Provoke discussion and open up new questions, solutions and innovations.

Does your organisation thrive within our planetary limits and social thresholds?

For nations and businesses to play their part in the achievement of living within our planetary limits, they must address their real impact on the planet’s resources and base reduction targets on what the world needs them to do.

For further details, please contact Article 13 or visit our website.

See a snapshot of our latest research results here (infographic).

Other examples of how nations are downscaling the limits and thresholds:

*Wales - Link

*Europe - Link

*Amsterdam - Link


1. THE SCOTTISH DOUGHNUT A safe and just operating space for Scotland (2014);jsessionid=281F6213451C9285E6352B7558B5AC2D?sequence=7


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