March 22, 2010

APA Announces Sustaining Places Initiative
at World Urban Forum

People, places and sustainability are the focus of a new multi-year initiative announced today by American Planning Association (APA) President Bruce Knight, FAICP, at the United Nation's Fifth World Urban Forum (WUF) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Sustaining Places Initiative will focus on the role of planning in addressing the entire set of human settlement issues relating to sustainability.

The initiative will examine how places can be sustained and how places themselves sustain life and civilizations.

"The planning movement and its professional planners are uniquely qualified to provide leadership in defining, analyzing and debating these issues and in integrating place-based strategies in the broader discussion of sustainability," said Knight. "The challenges of sustainability and possible solutions require planners' values, skills, and leadership."

Knight announced his initiative while chairing the WUF session on Planning Sustainable Urbanization and the Right to the City. The session was organized by the Global Planners Network that brings together 35 nation-based planning organizations.  APA is a founding member of the Global Planners Network and has been an active participant at the previous two World Urban Forums.

"Our Sustaining Places Initiative builds upon current activities underway by APA and will include several new endeavors in the coming months," said Paul Farmer, FAICP, APA's Chief Executive Officer. "Sustainability is integral to ensuring that people will thrive rather than just exist. Good governance is key, and good governance cannot occur without good planning."

The initiative will establish a Sustaining Places Task Force that will focus on the use of the comprehensive plan as the leading policy document and tool to help communities of all sizes achieve sustainability. Work of the task force will include a survey of existing best practices, evolving needs and practices and the ways in which practices should change in the future in order for the comprehensive plan to better achieve its role as the leading policy document.

The task force will be led by David Godschalk, FAICP, and Bill Anderson, FAICP. Godschalk is the Stephen Baxter Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Anderson is the director of Planning and Community Investment for the City of San Diego. Both individuals are well-respected within the planning profession and offer unique expertise that will advance the objectives of the task force and the initiative.

APA is currently engaged in several activities that will provide the foundation for the Sustaining Places Initiative including Rebuilding America, an evaluation of the country's expanding infrastructure needs for the 21st century and a blueprint for action; a research review underway by APA's National Centers for Planning; and expanded education offerings in the broad area of sustainability.

A Sustaining Places Day will be held during APA's Federal Policy and Program Briefing in September 2010 that will include collaboration with the American Institute of Architects Challenge 2030 and the American Society of Landscape Architects Sustainable Sites.

"Planners have the knowledge of integrating the concepts of sustainability and places as our profession is a place-making profession and the places that we make must have lasting value for all," said Knight.


Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;