Who we are
The APA Sustainable Communities Division (APA-SCD) supports planners who are committed to planning for sustainable communities by integrating all aspects of sustainability into our work through the combined economic, social, and ecological factors that shape our communities.
What is Sustainable Community Planning?
Sustainable Community Planning is a dynamic process by which public, private, and community based stakeholders plan to meet the needs of current and future generations. It does so in a manner that meets economic, environmental and social needs as mutually supportive outcomes; reflects the community’s unique history and assets; and evolves as the character of the community changes, priorities shift, and new challenges and aspirations are defined.
Why we have formed
Planning for sustainability is the defining challenge of the 21st century. Individual planners, firms, nonprofits, and agencies across the country are using the principles of sustainability to address emerging issues such as climate change and food security, and also as a new lens through which to view perennial challenges such as water management, housing equity, and environmental justice.
We think planners should be leading the charge for sustainability. And we think the APA and its members—from city halls to the halls of Congress—should be pushing a serious and far-reaching sustainability agenda. Our mission is to advance sustainability as a framework for integrated policy planning, a platform upon which to address contemporary issues in the built and natural environments, and the outcome of thoughtful urban and regional planning.
What we do
Building on previous efforts to push a strong sustainability agenda within the APA (including the APA’s “Planning for Sustainability Policy Guide” in 2000), we aim to do essentially three things:
1. SHOWCASE REAL SUSTAINABILITY. Sustainability practice and sustainability concepts are constantly evolving—and they go far beyond New Urbanism and Smart Growth. We want to be a forum for planners to talk about how they are addressing sustainability challenges in their own communities across disciplines and political boundaries. We want to showcase those communities and those leaders who are at the leading edge of sustainability.
2. ADVOCATE WITHIN APA. We are the only APA member group focused solely on sustainability issues. We want to be the voice within APA for planners (whether current or prospective APA members) who are interested in sustainability issues. We want the APA to put sustainability issues at the forefront of its agenda, working with other organizations, community leaders, and the business community to advance the cause of sustainability.
3. COMMUNICATE. We will engage planners across the country in the ongoing conversation about what “sustainability” in planning really means, and establish and maintain in people’s minds what “sustainable community planning” is and is not. We will work to develop new ways of communicating with our members and others, to provide access to resources, to communicate with each other, and to coordinate with organizations outside of APA’s structure. We’ll work with APA staff, APA Chapters, and other APA Divisions to promote our message.
- Educate constituencies about sustainability as both an outcome and a policy framework in the context of urban and regional planning, and its application on issues that cut across topic areas, economic sectors, disciplines, and political boundaries
- Promote sustainability as a framework for integrated policy planning in municipal, township, and county governance, and in regional public planning bodies, and support efforts to align organizational structures and investments within that framework
- Identify best practices in sustainability and promote them to the APA network, the broader urban and regional planning community, and allied professions
- Identify and promote qualitative and quantitative evidence that planning within a sustainability framework results in real economic, environmental and social benefits
- Assist other APA divisions, policy staff, board, and executive leadership in advocating for the coordination of federal investments around sustainability principles
- Partner with allied organizations on shared sustainable community planning objectives, and work to have those objectives met so that the impacts are maximal
- Advocate for full implementation and updating of APA’s Planning for Sustainability Policy Guide, and encourage the APA board and executive leadership to use sustainability principles to evaluate other policy guides
- Position the APA board, executive leadership, staff, and members to be the sustainable community planning movement’s foremost advocates
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