2023 Trend Report for Planners
By Petra Hurtado, PhD, Sagar Shah, PhD, AICP, Joseph DeAngelis, AICP, Alexsandra Gomez
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
<p>Petra (Stieninger) Hurtado is the Director of Research and Foresight at the American Planning Association, heading APA’s research programs and foresight practice. In this role, she is responsible for expanding a future-focused research agenda, advancing planning practices that assist communities in navigating change, and developing APA's foresight practice to inform APA's strategic governance. Petra has a Ph.D. in urban planning from the Vienna University of Technology. Her areas of expertise and research include strategic foresight, urban futures, urban sustainability, smart cities, emerging technologies, nature-based solutions, and environmental psychology. Prior to joining APA, she worked as an advisor, planner, researcher, and educator in the global urban sustainability arena. Petra has authored and co-authored multiple books, research papers, publicly funded reports, and articles and has presented as a keynote speaker at numerous conferences around the globe. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and at the Vienna University of Technology. </p>
Sagar Shah, PhD, AICP
Dr. Sagar Shah, AICP, is the Planning and Community Health Manager at the American Planning Association in Washington DC. In this role, he creates tools, training, and educational materials to help local planning practitioners integrate health and equity into their planning practice. In his academic and professional career, he has worked on multiple applied research, community-based research, and basic research projects. Sagar’s research interest includes investigating the role planners play in creating healthy communities with an emphasis on health equity. Sagar holds a PhD in Regional Development Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in Planning from the University of Southern California.
Joseph DeAngelis, AICP
Joseph DeAngelis, AICP is a planner and Research Manager with the American Planning Association in Chicago. Joseph's primary area of research is in the realm of climate adaptation and community resilience. He currently manages APA's slate of FEMA and NOAA sponsored research projects. Previously, he was a resiliency planner for the New York City Department of City Planning, where he worked on long-term planning and zoning solutions for communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
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