APA Foresight helps planners navigate change and prepare for an uncertain future. With foresight in mind, planners can guide change, create more sustainable and equitable outcomes, and establish themselves as critical to thriving communities. Foresight is not about predicting the future — it is about understanding drivers of change that are outside of our control, how we can prepare for them, and when it is time to act. APA Foresight identifies emerging trends and how scenarios stemming from each may impact the world, our communities, and the planning profession in the years to come.
The 2023 Trend Report for Planners features more than 100 existing, emerging, and potential future trends that APA identified as relevant to planning. The trends are structured within three timeframes (Act Now, Prepare, Learn and Watch), which indicate the urgency of planners' action. For each trend, the report gives insights on what the trend is about and explains why they are important for planners to know about and consider in their work. Additionally, the report describes "trend patterns," which explore the bigger-picture developments rooted in the variety of trends observed and how they affect planning. Ultimately, this report addresses the future of planning, explaining how the planning profession will have to evolve to keep up with a continuously changing world, what new skills planners will have to develop, and which new tools are worth trying.
Planners can use the trends listed in this report as input for their long-range and current planning processes, to practice strategic foresight during community visioning processes, for scenario planning, or simply to inform future decision-making.
This report was developed in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
About the Authors
Petra Hurtado, PhD
Sagar Shah, PhD, AICP
Sagar Shah serves as the Manager of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the American Planning Association (APA), leveraging over 15 years of rich experience in community planning. With a focus on the nexus of planning and health, his research delves into effectively integrating health and equity considerations into planning practices. Within APA, Sagar spearheads the 'upskill planners' initiative, dedicated to empowering planners with new skills to thrive in evolving environments. He also plays a pivotal role as a core member of APA’s Foresight Team, actively studying influential external factors - such as AI - that significantly impact planners' roles. Sagar earned his Ph.D. in Regional Development Planning from the University of Cincinnati and holds a Master’s degree in Planning from the University of Southern California. He is a certified planner accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Joseph DeAngelis, AICP
Alexsandra Gomez is a policy analyst at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Her work is primarily in the Safe and Complete Streets program. She formerly worked as a research associate at the American Planning Association, where she supported sponsored and strategic research projects and write for APA publications. She has a background in cultural geography and anthropology and applies these disciplines to planning research and practice. Her research interests include urban political ecology, geographies of power, and equitable community-led development.
Table of Contents
About this report
About the American Planning Association, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
The Trends We Need to Act on Now
Climate Policies, Funding, and Action
The Digital Era
Federal Funding and Local Priorities
Gender Expansiveness and Gender Mainstreaming
Policy Impacts on Health
The Housing Crisis, New Roommates, and Solutions
Social Media Use and Media Literacy
Equitable, Environmentally Responsible Transportation Younger Generations and Social Challenges
The Trends We Need to Prepare For
Blockchain, Crypto, and NFTs
An Upside-Down Economy
Amazonification and Other Retail Trends
The Future of Work
The Trends We Need to Learn and Watch
Potential Game-Changing Tech
The Future of Planning
Planning Competencies and Skills