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This website has been designed to let you visualise and compare the environmental and social progress of nations relative to the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries. The purpose is to foster a public discussion about the meaning of a "good life" and what it could look like in a society that operates within the means of the living planet. This discussion is vital - and urgent - because no country has been meeting basic needs for its residents at a globally sustainable level of resource use, nor is any on track to do so.

On this page, you can find information on the scientific research behind the website, the authors of the work, and other related information.

The Research

The methods and results underpinning the data used on this website have been peer-reviewed. Please cite the following scientific journal articles if using their respective results from the website, or if you would like to download and use the data:

National Trends

  • Fanning, A.L., O'Neill, D.W., Hickel, J., and Roux, N. (2021). The social shortfall and ecological overshoot of nations. Nature Sustainability in press. doi:10.1038/s41893-021-00799-z.

National Snapshots

  • O'Neill, D.W., Fanning, A.L., Lamb, W.F., and Steinberger, J.K. (2018). A good life for all within planetary boundaries. Nature Sustainability 1, 88-95. doi:10.1038/s41893-018-0021-4.

Who We Are

This website is the result of a collaboration between the following individuals and institutions:

  • Andrew Fanning, Data Analysis & Research Lead at the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.
  • Dan O’Neill, Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Barcelona, and co-author of Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.
  • Jason Hickel, Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Visiting Senior Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics.
  • Nicolas Roux, PhD Researcher at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.
  • William Lamb, Researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.
  • Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change at the University of Lausanne.
  • Beth Stratford, PhD Researcher at the University of Leeds, and Fellow at the New Economics Foundation.
  • Kate Raworth, creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries, author of Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, and co-founder of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab.
  • Katherine Trebeck, co-founder of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, and former Senior Researcher at Oxfam.

The national trends data visualisations were created by Rafael Gutiérrez Martínez at Codigo Visual and Andrew Fanning. The national snapshots data visualisations were created by Andrew Fanning and William Lamb, with web application support from Peter Edwards at the University of Leeds. The interview with Giorgos Kallis was kindly filmed and edited by Amalia Cardenas. Funding was generously provided by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, Research England’s QR Strategic Priorities Fund, and with additional in-kind contributions from each of the participating institutions listed above.

A Safe and Just Space

Our analysis adopts the "safe and just space" framework created by Kate Raworth. This framework combines the concept of planetary boundaries, originally proposed by Johan Rockström and colleagues, with the complementary concept of social boundaries. There are nine planetary boundaries related to critical Earth-system processes which jointly define the safe space that humanity should stay within to maintain the relatively stable conditions of the Holocene period. However, remaining within planetary boundaries is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for sustainability. Human well-being must also be maintained, and it requires resources. The safe and just space framework therefore argues that development should occur within a doughnut-shaped space where resource use is above the level required to meet people's basic needs, but below the level that carries a substantial risk of crossing the nine planetary boundaries.

Safe and Just Space framework

Source: Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist

Biophysical Boundaries and Social Thresholds

We have downscaled five planetary boundary indicators (climate change, phosphorus loading, nitrogen loading, freshwater use, and land-use change) to per capita equivalents, and compared these to consumption-based environmental indicators (i.e. footprints) at the national scale. In addition to these, we have included two separate footprint indicators (ecological footprint and material footprint) and compared these to their suggested maximum sustainable levels. The result is seven biophysical indicators in comparison to their respective boundaries (Table 1). See the Country Trends and Country Comparisons pages for specific biophysical boundaries in different years for each study. All seven indicators are consumption-based measures that account for international trade.

Table 1: Biophysical Indicators and Boundaries

Biophysical Indicator Description
CO2 Emissions Consumption-based allocation of CO2 emissions from energy and cement production
Phosphorus Consumption-based allocation of phosphorus from applied fertilizer
Nitrogen Consumption-based allocation of nitrogen from applied fertilizer
Blue Water Consumption and pollution of blue water in the domestic water supply, plus virtual-water imports, minus virtual-water exports
Land-Use Change Consumption-based allocation of the human appropriation of net primary production (eHANPP) embodied in final biomass products
Ecological Footprint Biologically productive land and sea area needed to produce the biotic resources that a country uses, and to assimilate its CO2 emissions
Material Footprint Consumption-based allocation of used raw material extraction (minerals, fossil fuels, and biomass)

To assess social outcomes, we have used a set of eleven social indicators that are common to studies following the safe and just space framework, and the social objectives contained in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For each of these indicators we have identified a minimum threshold value consistent with a “good life” for a nation’s residents (Table 2). See the Country Trends and Country Comparisons pages for specific social thresholds defined for each study. Although the choice of the social thresholds is undoubtedly subjective, we believe each constitutes a reasonable assessment of a level of performance consistent with meeting basic needs.

Table 2: Social Indicators and Thresholds

Social Indicator Description
Life Satisfaction National average of responses to the Gallup World Poll’s Cantril life ladder question
Healthy Life Expectancy Number of years that an individual is expected to live in good health (without major debilitating disease or infirmity)
Nutrition Average calorific intake of food and drink per day
Sanitation Percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities
Income Percentage of the population living on more than $1.90 (2018 study) or $5.50 (2021 study) a day
Access to Energy Percentage of the population with access to electricity
Education Gross enrolment in secondary school (i.e. the ratio of total enrolment, regardless of age, to the population that are of secondary-school age)
Social Support National average of responses to the question “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”
Democratic Quality Average of two Worldwide Governance Indicators: voice and accountability, and political stability
Equality 1 minus the Gini coefficient of household disposable income (i.e. after taxes and transfers), multiplied by 100
Employment Percentage of the labour force that is employed

See the scientific research articles referenced above for more information, including a full discussion of the biophysical and social indicators, data sources, and analytic framework. Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.