The 'Doughnut Economic Model' and its application to Malta

Day Two of the Malta Sustainability Forum offered another selection of modules featuring top international local and foreign experts in their fields


Day Two of the Malta Sustainability Forum, organised by APS Bank, offered another selection of modules featuring top international local and foreign experts in their fields.

The first module on the agenda focused on Food for Planetary Wellbeing. With speakers from all corners of the globe, the panel discussed in detail aspects of food sustainability – how human behaviour in terms of the food we eat and how it is sourced and produced is linked to climate change, biodiversity and food security. The discussion also highlighted the basic human right to food, as society races towards the 2030 target for the United Nations’ Sustainability Goal 2 – zero hunger.

The second module focused on Urbanism and The Doughnut Economic Model. Conceived by UK economist Kate Raworth, the model is a visual framework for sustainable development, which combines the concept of planetary boundaries with that of social boundaries.

With a keynote speech by Joeri Oltheten, strategic core member of the Curaçao Doughnut Economy Taskforce, who kickstarted an initiative to implement the Doughnut model in Curaçao, the panellists looked at how other cities, such as Portland and Philadelphia, were analysed in terms of the Doughnut model. Then, Juan-Carlos Goilo, from Amsterdam’s CTO Innovation team, shared examples of how Amsterdam is stepping up to the plate when it comes to providing sustainable social housing to its citizens.

Highlighting the similarities between Curacao and Malta, Oltheten said that the first step in applying the Doughnut Economic Model here would be to “change the way we look at society and try to balance social needs with ecological needs instead of just looking at economic growth.”

The panel discussion that followed began with the short film, Malta in the Mirror.

The film underlined the long-term sustainability challenges the Maltese Islands are facing and which may affect economic competitiveness going forward, as well as the social wellbeing of our residents. A number of panellists placed emphasis on the fact that quality of life and wellbeing cannot be replaced.

Tying into this, a lack of green and social spaces weighs on people’s mental health, and this has been further exacerbated by the recent lockdowns brought on by COVID-19.

Going into further detail about the Doughnut Model, it became clear that sustainable urban design and planning could help to remove social alienation. “We need to put the human back in the centre of our thinking and review the quality of the urban development around us,” Maria Attard, Head of Geography and Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta, said. “We need a revolution! We need to stop construction and rethink the way we handle urban development.”

As the module came to its conclusion, there was mutual agreement that long-term political support is required to adopt the Doughnut Model successfully, with strong social, political and economic institutions providing the right governance framework. David Felice, Executive Director of AP Valletta said Valletta is a good metaphor, being a city that has reinvented itself recently, adding a social interaction dimension that was lacking for many years. So the prospect of applying the Doughnut model in Malta is not an impossibility.

The final module of Day Two at the Forum was titled Pitching for Good. Guest speakers and panellists discussed how a number of organisations and businesses are promoting sustainability through their services and products.

The Malta Sustainability Forum 2021 runs until tomorrow. To register, and to follow the latest updates, please visit

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