Modern planning practice emerged in response to the economic and population growth pressures of 20th century America. City leaders wanted separation between residential, commercial, and industrial areas; land developers wanted organized transportation and utility infrastructure; and later, citizens demanded protection for sensitive environmental and cultural resources.
Twenty-first century needs are much different. The mature global economy has dramatically changed the economic base of most U.S. communities, leaving many formerly vibrant manufacturing regions with declining populations, fragile economies, and outdated infrastructure. The end of cheap oil heralds a likely end to unbridled exurban expansion in most regions and a more diverse and complex energy future. And a host of serious environmental challenges, from freshwater depletion to global climate change, demand new thinking about how communities are planned, designed, and managed.
The need for leadership on comprehensive approaches to sustainability planning is growing. The APA Sustainable Communities Division's goal is to help planners engage in and collaborate on innovative approaches to this important emerging issue.
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