Criteria for CM Mandatory Credits

Certification Maintenance (CM) strengthens planning practice and the integrity of the AICP credential by establishing professional standards for all AICP members. Through continuing education developed and delivered by approved CM providers, AICP certification ensures that members' skills and knowledge stay current. This ongoing professional development makes certified planners valuable to employers, colleagues, and communities, and helps them make a greater impact in their work.

Mandatory CM Topics

Of the 32 CM credits required during the two-year reporting period, four topics are mandatory: law, ethics, equity, and sustainability/resilience. These four topics, equal to four credits, are required of AICP-certified planners because they are fundamental to how planning is practiced today. To be eligible for mandatory CM topic credit, a course must meet the criteria established for that topic.

General Requirements for Mandatory Topic Credits

All mandatory credit education must meet the general requirements below in addition to the specific criteria for each topic linked above.

  • Education must include the application of the topic to the current (two-year CM reporting period) practice of planning.
  • Education must meet a one-hour minimum per CM topic for a planning-related activity. (If offering credit for multiple mandatory topics in one activity, the activity length must be one hour per topic.)
  • Speaker(s)/Panel must include at least one speaker who is AICP. (Educational activities related to the ethics mandatory credit must include a majority of speakers who are AICP.)
  • Diversity of speakers is strongly encouraged, including diversity in race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, national origin, cultures, abilities, sectors, allied professions, and other groups representing underrepresented backgrounds in urban planning and community development.
  • Review CM Providers Resources and the CM Provider Toolkit for more detail about providing CM-eligible education for AICP-certified planners.


AICP-certified planners pledge to uphold high standards of ethics and professional conduct. The ethics mandatory credit topic ensures that planners maintain an understanding of how the AICP Code of Ethics applies to evolving circumstances and trends in the practice of planning.


CM Ethics Credit Criteria

Ethics Mandatory CM Credit Criteria and Resources

To support you in your important role in creating planning education, the criteria for the Ethics mandatory credit provides guidance and resources for developing education that is eligible for CM Ethics credit.

Though the purpose of ethics training is to provide general guidance in understanding the AICP Code of Ethics, it is important to make a firm distinction between this general information and direct advice regarding a specific situation, which may only be given by the Ethics Officer – Chapter Presidents, Fellows, PDOs, and others are not authorized to give ethics advice.

To help maintain this distinction during training sessions, presenters MUST include the language below in any printed materials distributed as part of the session and must read it aloud at the beginning of the spoken presentation: PLEASE NOTE: This session has been created to provide general education regarding the AICP Code of Ethics. Though examples, sample problems, and question and answer sessions are an important part of illustrating an application of the code's provisions, all certified planners should be aware that Only the Ethics Officer May issue informal advice and only the Ethics Committee may issue a formal opinion. ( AICP Code of Ethics, Section C).


Ethics training has been required since the inception of the CM program in 2008. The Ethics CM requirement is the opportunity for planners to refresh their knowledge of the AICP Code of Ethics once every two years. All planners, regardless of where they work, have a primary obligation to serve the public interest. The Ethics session should help to further that purpose and maintain the integrity of the profession.


Certified planners — members of the American Institute of Certified Planners — pledge to uphold high standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct. As such, the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct helps AICP members negotiate tough ethical and moral dilemmas they sometimes face. The AICP Code of Ethics is foundational to certified planners and demonstrates to employers, colleagues, and communities that AICP planners adhere to strict ethical standards. The mandatory Ethics CM credit brings awareness of ethics to planners periodically.

Learning Areas and Criteria

Learning Areas: The AICP Code of Ethics

The mandatory Ethics CM credit must be focused on planning ethics and include a refresher of the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

The AICP Ethics Code is structured in five sections, as follows:

Section A contains a statement of aspirational principles that constitute the ideals to which we are committed. We shall strive to act in accordance with our stated principles. However, an allegation that we failed to achieve our aspirational principles cannot be the subject of a misconduct charge or be a cause for disciplinary action.

Section B contains rules of conduct to which we are held accountable. If we violate any of these rules, we can be the object of a charge of misconduct and shall have the responsibility of responding to and cooperating with the investigation and enforcement procedures. If we are found to have violated the Code by the AICP Ethics Officer, we shall be subject to the imposition of sanctions which may include loss of our certification.

Section C contains the procedural provisions of the Code that describe how an AICP planner may obtain either a formal advisory ruling or informal advice, as well as the requirements for an annual ethics report.

Section D contains the procedural provisions that detail how a complaint of misconduct can be filed, as well as how these complaints are investigated and adjudicated.

Section E contains procedural provisions regarding the forms of disciplinary actions against an AICP planner, including those situations where a planner is convicted of a serious crime or other conduct inconsistent with the responsibilities of a certified planner.


Educational activities related to the Ethics mandatory credit must include a majority of speakers who are AICP.

Suggested Structure

The Ethics session should elicit self-reflection from participants and prompt them to consider how they might react to a situation or scenario. Ethics scenarios are not always settled but can contain a high level of nuance.

Overview of the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, including disclaimer statement* Approximately 10–15 minutes
Overview of Ethics cases from the previous year (from Annual Report) 5 minutes
Applications of the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Practice to current topics facing planners today, including discussion* 35–40 minutes
Conclusion and guidance for where to get more info* 5 minutes

* Required for all Ethics sessions

While the new, biennial Ethics CM requirement is now only one hour in length, organizers of planning ethics sessions should consider using 1.0 hours to allow enough time to cover the issues being addressed and provide adequate time for discussion/Q&A.

The Ethics Committee suggests that presenters keep the audience engaged by making the presentation as interactive as possible. Polling the audience can be quite valuable, if possible. Consider pausing after each scenario to ask audience members if they see an ethical issue. Ask them to identify the applicable citations from the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and be sure to allow time for discussion and the opportunity for participants to think through their behavior relating to similar situations.

Examples and Resources

The AICP Ethics Case of the Year

The AICP Ethics Case of the Year is a presentation created each year by the AICP Ethics Committee and the AICP Ethics Officer. Each year's case is a series of ethical scenarios based on real-life planning issues from the past year including advisory opinions and complaints. Names and locations are changed but the substance of the cases is not. The Ethics Committee will ensure that each year at least one scenario will be focused on the ethics of equity and social justice. The Case of the Year normally debuts at the National Planning Conference, after which time it is available for presentation at chapter and section conferences throughout the year. The Case of the Year includes all of the information necessary to ensure that the presentation meets the requirements for the mandatory Ethics CM.

Examples of Topics

The Ethics session can focus on a specific topic of the AICP Code of Ethics if the required elements (see above) are included. Topic examples include:

  • The Aspirational Principles
  • Ethics of social justice and racial equity
  • Ethics of public engagement (including with BIPOC)
  • Ethics specific to public-sector employees
  • Ethics specific to private consultants
  • Ethics of professional practice and commitment to the planning profession
  • Ethics of advocacy — how to promote commitments to the Code of Ethics while protecting your job
  • Ethics and the digital world
  • Ethics of environmental protection

Examples of Approaches

  • PowerPoint presentation with polling of the audience sprinkled throughout
  • Game show format, such as "Ethics Jeopardy"
  • Break-out groups facilitated by AICP planners with knowledge of the Ethics Code



Planning practices are dependent upon local legislation and regulatory processes, which change frequently. The law mandatory credit topic ensures planners have a current understanding of case law, regulations, and statutes and their impact on planning practice.


CM Law Credit Criteria

Law Mandatory CM Credit Criteria and Resources

To support you in your important role creating planning education, the criteria for the Law mandatory credit provides guidance and resources for developing education that is eligible for CM Law credit.


Law training has been required since the inception of the CM program in 2008. Law touches on virtually every aspect of planning, from citizen engagement (due process, the digital divide) to conducting meetings, drafting and interpreting regulations, and how the judicial system works.


Laws and regulations affect nearly every aspect of planning or action of a planner. Planners must consider how to provide adequate due process in public engagement and meetings, how boards and commissions record proper findings, conduct impartial reviews of applications following local regulations and state laws, read and interpret regulations, and draft staff reports, ordinances, and other documents.

Learning Areas and Criteria

Learning Areas

For an activity to qualify for Law credit:

  • The content of the activity must be related to a functional area of planning law (such as land-use law, environmental law, housing law, constitutional law) or other areas of law that have an impact on planning practice (e.g., practical implications of specific constitutional law challenges).
  • The content must be based on and related to current trends in planning that require legal analysis or guidance, revisit older caselaw, or provide analysis of recent (within the last 10 years) legislative activity, laws, regulatory efforts, or court decisions affecting planning practice and policy, or having implications for planning practice.
  • The legal elements must constitute a majority of the content and must highlight the critical points for planning in practice.

A Law credit course must present one or more of the following:

  • Describe planning issues that make it to court and explain why it a policy problem, interpretation, procedural problem
  • Explain what level or levels of law (federal, state, or local) was at issue, and how this might vary between states or types of cities
  • Explain the practical effect and offer pointers for change or revisions to local planning practices; consider forms or ordinance examples to draw from
  • Promote AICP values, including diversity and inclusion through the CM program

The format for a Law CM credit session will vary, and audience participation and a variety of formats are encouraged.


Law credit educational activities must include at least one speaker who holds a law degree (JD) or is licensed as an attorney, and one speaker who is AICP.

Examples and Resources

Topic Examples

Some examples of topics that could qualify for a CM Law session:

  • Ordinance drafting, interpretive, and regulatory issues. What phrases and words have created problems in court, and what limitations do planners need to be aware of (such as vague and overbroad terms, and delegation of authority)?
  • Federal and state court decision updates. This should specifically break down the case and identify clear takeaways for planners — what does it mean to their daily practice in applying, interpreting, or writing plans and regulations?
  • Impact of specific cases on planning practice and regulation (e.g., constitutional issues such as religious freedom, free speech, takings and exactions, flood mitigation, protected land uses, transportation, fair housing).
  • Legislative initiatives and efforts: these are more likely to be state-specific, but may include impacts to the planning profession for federal legislation.
  • Specific topics may include constitutional limitations on development, environmental controls on land use, zoning, and planning, the politics of development, alternatives to public regulation (such as nuisance and covenants), transportation, regionalism, environmental justice, and the emerging debate over "smart growth."
  • Ownership of systems and history and how they impact individuals and communities; the history of redlining and how to address this.


APA Resources

APA's Amicus Committee

Passport webinars offering Law CM

APA's Planning magazine Legal Lessons column

APA's Research KnowledgeBase

APA's Zoning Practice

APA's Planning and Law Division

Resource Page

Other Resource Page

Note: Resources may depend heavily on state and local caselaw and legislation, legal conferences, and state municipal or county league information sources.

Additional Resources and Organizations

Planning and Law Division member blogs. This is a partial list; other blogs and publications may be accessed via the Resource Page link above.

Law of the Land. A blog on land use law and zoning

AARP Legal Issues

American Bar Association State and Local Government resources

National Poverty Law Center

State Municipal League or State Municipal Attorney websites

Zoning & Planning Law Report



Planners have a special responsibility to serve the public interest, expand choice and opportunity for all persons, and to plan for the needs of the disadvantaged, as asserted in the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The equity mandatory credit provides the opportunity for planners to expand their equity toolkit, leading to more equitable outcomes in communities.


CM Equity Credit Criteria

Equity Mandatory CM Credit Criteria and Resources

To support you in your important role in creating planning education, the criteria for the Equity mandatory credit provides guidance and resources for developing education that is eligible for CM Equity credit.


In the fall of 2019, the AICP Commission approved the establishment of a mandatory targeted topic CM credit for equity. The name "Equity" was selected to emphasize the connection of this credit to the AICP Code of Ethics. While the name of this credit is "Equity," it covers Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.


APA recognizes the necessity to share the learning space with members or professionals to amplify the voices of traditionally disenfranchised populations and underrepresented voices.

Examples of specific provisions in the AICP Code of Ethics addressing Equity include:

  • We shall examine our own cultures, practices, and values to understand our conscious and unconscious biases. (Section A.1 (a)).Seek social justice by identifying and working to expand choice and opportunity for all persons...Urge the alteration of policies, institutions, and decisions that do not help meet their needs. (Section A.3 (b))
  • Contribute time and effort to our communities, particularly to those groups lacking in adequate planning resources, through pro bono planning activities. (A.5 (f))

An Equity CM credit recognizes:

  • The social justice provisions of the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (see above)
  • A series of recommendations from three leadership groups: APA's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; APA's Social Equity Task Force; and the Divisions Council, that AICP consider a new social equity requirement for CM
  • The AICP Commission's established goals for the CM program — promoting AICP values, including diversity and inclusion through the CM program
  • Ownership of systems and history and how they impact individuals and communities
  • Dissemination and implementation of the APA Planning for Equity Policy Guide

Learning Areas and Criteria

Learning Areas

For an educational activity to qualify for Equity CM credit, it must address one of the areas below. Each area is followed by a description to assist CM Providers in fulfilling the requirement. The descriptions are adapted from the APA Equity Policy Guide.

  • Equity — just and fair treatment in society in which all can participate and reach their full potential. Just and fair distribution of resources and improvements so that all people and communities can prosper.
  • Diversity — awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our differences; the value of different perspectives and experiences such as race, ethnicity, culture, age, generation, immigration status, household type, family composition, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious beliefs; identity and difference represented individually and collectively.
  • Inclusion — the outcome of Equity and Social Justice work for all people. To be included and not excluded. Plan spaces and places where all people feel welcome, and invite everyone to contribute and participate.


Equity credit educational activities must include at least one speaker who is AICP. Diversity of speakers is strongly encouraged, including diversity in race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, national origin, cultures, abilities, sectors, allied professions, and other groups representing underrepresented backgrounds in urban planning and community development.

Examples and Resources

Topic Examples

The following are examples of topics that could qualify for the one-hour CM Equity credit activity:


  • Anti-racism in action in plans, policies, projects, and regulations
  • Racial injustice and discrimination in planning
  • Racial and ethnic disparities (jobs, housing, education, public health)
  • Bias (explicit, conscious, and unconscious) including white privilege and the resulting impact in the workplace, profession, and the general public


  • Evictions and mortgage defaults
  • Redlining, greenlining, displacement, and gentrification
  • Unhoused and homeless
  • Universal design principles in housing and public spaces
  • Accessory dwelling units and aging in place


  • Equity in practice such as parks and public spaces, health, mobility and transportation, education, and housing
  • Equitable allocation of capital improvements as part of the Capital Improvement Plan, such as infrastructure and parks


  • Diversity and inclusion in practice in the workplace and the practice of planning
  • Environmental justice
  • Social justice


  • Planning with immigrants and refugees
  • Public engagement with diverse communities including addressing access and language barriers
  • Feeling safe and welcome in parks and public spaces
  • Planning for inclusive communities, diverse populations, youth, the aged, and those with accessibility and other special health needs
  • Religious land uses
  • Voter suppression and gerrymandering; impacts of systematic exclusion in planning

Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement/Police Reform

  • Incarceration disparities
  • Impact of police brutality and criminal justice system on people and communities of color
  • The role of the planner as a component of the "police" or "policing" industrial complex
  • Public protests as a means to policy changes
  • Pros and cons of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Community Design (CPTED)

Planning History/Historical Context

  • History of planning practices and the planners who supported them
  • Examples include methods that had negative implications for communities of color including zoning, urban renewal plans, redlining, predatory lending, restrictive covenants, homeowner association documents, and Heirs' property
  • Historical planning contributions of planners of color and other traditionally disenfranchised people
  • AICP Code of Ethics — Recognize our unique responsibility to eliminate historic patterns of inequity tied to planning decisions represented in documents such as zoning ordinances and land use plans (A 3 (a))
  • The disproportionate impacts of pandemics, such as COVID-19, on communities of color
  • HIV/AIDS: Housing opportunities for people living with AIDS, planning for the facility needs of drug injection users and needle exchange programs, disproportionate and ongoing impacts of HIV/AIDS on communities of color, demographic impacts of HIV/AIDS leading to a missing generation of LGBTQ+ elders
  • Zip codes: How life expectancy and other indicators are not due to genetic differences but to where we live
  • Public health/health equity/health outcomes/social determinants of health
  • Age: concerning housing and access to public spaces Gender Identity/Transgender Rights
  • Gender and transportation: street harassment and gender identity, perceptions of safety with active modes of transportation, commuting patterns by gender, transportation "pink tax": how women often pay more for transit options for safety reasons
  • Gender and zoning: the impacts of modern zoning codes on work-life balance; the impacts of modern zoning codes on work-life balance and ability to have home-based occupations or multigenerational housing (more women are caregivers than men), gender mainstreaming of policies and codes (how-to)
  • Gender and wealth: Addressing the planning salary gap, how family-friendly workplace policies support gender equality
  • Gender and data: Historic lack of women's input in the built environment and its consequences, the need for planners to collect gender information and determine preferences by gender, how gender bias is built into AI and smart cities, etc.
  • Gender and public participation: Time, location, format of public meetings, and ability of women (particularly caregivers) to fully participate

Key Terms

Anti-racism — The policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance (Oxford Dictionary)

BIPOC — Acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

Cultural Competency — Skill development for work across cultural lines (Adapted from

Environmental Justice — The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income concerning the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies (EPA)

Greenlining — Efforts aimed at increasing investment in neighborhoods that have been redlined or are otherwise disadvantaged (Lexico/Oxford)

Individual/Interpersonal Racism — Prejudgment, bias, stereotypes, or generalizations about an individual or group based on race. The impacts of racism on individuals — white people and people of color (internalized privilege and oppression). Individual racism can result in illegal discrimination. (City of Seattle Race & Social Justice Initiative)

Institutional Racism — Policies, practice, and procedures that work to the benefit of white people and the detriment of people of color, usually unintentionally or inadvertently (City of Seattle Race & Social Justice Initiative)

Intersectionality — The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. (Oxford Dictionary). This term was coined by Black feminist scholar and professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989 to explain how overlapping vulnerabilities created by systems of discrimination and disempowerment create specific kinds of challenges (Racial Equity Tools). For example, a Black woman who is a lesbian must deal with the intersectionality of dealing with racial, gender, and homophobic discrimination or bias.

POC — an acronym for People of Color

Privilege — Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of group membership and not based on what a person or group has done or failed to do. (National Association of School Psychologists)

Redlining — The practice of refusing to give mortgages to African Americans or extracting unusually severe terms from them with subprime loans. The Homeowners' Loan Corporation created color-coded maps of every metropolitan area in the nation, with the safest neighborhoods colored green and the riskiest colored red. (The Color of Law)

Social Justice — the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities (SD Foundation)

Structural Racism — The interplay of policies, practices, and programs of differing institutions that leads to adverse outcomes and conditions for communities of color compared to white communities that occur within the context of racialized historical and cultural conditions. (City of Seattle Race & Social Justice Initiative)

Unconscious Bias (implicit bias) — Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their conscious awareness. ( Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one's tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing. A strong feeling in favor of or against one group of people, or one side in an argument, often not based on fair judgment (Lexico/Oxford)


APA Resources

AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (revised November 2021)

APA Equity Resources

APA Healthy Communities Policy Guide

APA Planning Advisory Service Report 549/550. 2007. Fair and Healthy Land Use: Environmental Justice and Planning. Craig Anthony Arnold.

APA Planning Advisory Service Report 593. 2019. Planning with Diverse Communities. Ivis García, AICP, PhD, Andrea Garfinkel-Castro, and Deirdre Pfeiffer, AICP, PhD.

APA's Planning and the Black Community Division

Additional Resources and Organizations

Active Living Research


Annie E. Casey Foundation

Center for Social Inclusion

ChangeLab Solutions

Congressional Black Caucus

Creating Healthy Places Guidebook, University of Colorado Denver's College of Architecture and Planning

Dream Defenders

Equal Justice Initiative

Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice


Inclusive Action for the City

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

League of United Latin American Citizens

M4BL: The Movement for Black Lives

Policy Guides from the Movement for Black Lives


National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Negro Women

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Urban League

Newcomers, Gentrification, and Its Discontents. 2019. Schuerman, Matthew L. University of Chicago Press


Prevention Institute

Race Forward

Southern Poverty Law Center

Transportation Research and Education Center, Portland State University


Sustainability and Resilience

The targeted credit provides additional flexibility within the CM program to promote a greater understanding of innovative planning practices and emerging issues.

Planners must pay special attention to the long-term and interrelated consequences of their actions. Planning actions may have potentially detrimental long-term consequences, especially on their most vulnerable people, places, and systems. The sustainability and resilience credit will help planners better plan for sustainable and resilient outcomes.


CM Sustainability and Resilience Credit Criteria

Sustainability and Resilience Mandatory CM Credit Criteria and Resources

To support you in your important role in creating planning education, the criteria for the Sustainability and Resilience mandatory credit provides guidance and resources for developing education that is eligible for CM Sustainability and Resilience credit.


In the fall of 2019, the AICP Commission approved the establishment of a mandatory targeted topic CM credit. The first targeted topic is Sustainability and Resilience. Planning for sustainability means balancing social, economic, and environmental resources, incorporating resilience, and linking local actions to regional and global concerns. Planning for resilience means supporting the capacity of individuals, communities, and systems to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of chronic stresses and acute shocks and even transform when conditions require it.


Achieving community sustainability and resilience is a high priority in today's urban planning profession because of the rapidly growing need for hazard mitigation and climate adaptation in communities around the world. More than ever, planners are being called upon to provide leadership where natural hazards, extreme weather events, changing climate conditions, and natural resource degradation challenge community stability and quality of life. Planners have an obligation to guide policy, long-term community planning, and infrastructure investment toward strategic choices that are equitable for all members of the community. Therefore, we must prepare planners to meet this challenge. The AICP Commission has determined that all AICP-certified planners should be given the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills oriented specifically to planning for both sustainability and resilience.

The array of topics allowed by the criteria for this S&R CM credit is intentionally broad because of the diverse needs of planners. What it means for a community to be resilient to environmental shocks and stresses, or to have adapted strategically and equitably to changing conditions, differs by location and by its physical, social, and economic characteristics. For example, a planner serving a community with extreme temperature events, fire hazards, and declining population will need to employ different tools and strategies than a planner serving a fast-growing coastal city where flooding and storm effects are the most prominent threat.

Overarching this diversity of topics, the prime objective of this targeted CM credit coursework is to provide knowledge and an intellectual framework that will empower planners facing these increasingly urgent challenges and connect them with necessary resources, tools, and best practices. Importantly, this coursework will also integrally consider and articulate with intentionality the implications of equity, diversity, and inclusion for disadvantaged communities related to the topic, tool, or project addressed. To this end, it is expected that equity will be woven in as an integral part of all sessions qualifying for this credit while also leaving open the potential for sessions entirely focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion as they apply to resilience and sustainability.

Since the fields of sustainability and resilience planning are quickly evolving, instruction must be afforded flexibility and creativity. These criteria encourage partnerships with professions allied with planning to bring the best and most relevant information to the planner's classroom. On a speaking panel, a diversity of professional orientation as well as depth of experience in one's field are desirable to achieve educational goals.

Learning Areas and Criteria

Coursework in the AICP Sustainability and Resilience CM Targeted Credit Program must instruct within at least one of the following sustainability OR resilience learning areas. Instruction on a topic, tool, or project MUST integrally consider the equity, diversity, and inclusion implications for disadvantaged communities and convey relevant facts and analysis to attendees.

Sustainability Learning Areas

  • Livable Built Environment: Ensuring that all elements of the built environment, including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure, work together to provide sustainable, green places for living, working, and recreation, with a high quality of life
  • Harmony with Nature: Ensuring that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued and that protecting them, maintaining their health, and leveraging them are primary objectives
  • Sustainable Economy: Ensuring that the community is prepared to deal with changes in its economic health and to initiate sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies which foster workforce development and job opportunity in new, green industries as well as promote a circular economy which utilizes clean, affordable energy sources
  • Interwoven Equity: Ensuring fairness, inclusiveness, and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, education, safety, and livelihood needs of all residents and populations, thereby reducing poverty and inequality while advancing peace and justice in our communities
  • Healthy Community: Ensuring that public health needs are recognized and addressed through provisions for healthy foods, physical activity, access to recreation, health care, environmental justice, and safe neighborhoods
  • Responsible Regionalism: Ensuring that all local proposals account for, connect with, and support the plans of adjacent jurisdictions and the surrounding region
  • Sustainable Development & Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction: Ensuring that new buildings, projects, and communities are developed in such a way to minimize negative impacts on air quality and stormwater, reduce GHG emissions and environmental pollution

Resilience Learning Areas

  • Best Practices in Resilience: Creating policies and multidisciplinary processes that integrate planning principles with the best current science, engineering, and innovation, leading to transformation and equitable outcomes
  • Data and Predictive Models: Assuring easy, consistent, and affordable access to community and regional data to support planning for the future
  • Resilience Standards: Developing resilience standards and a resilience lens throughout planning, design, development, and implementation processes
  • Equity as an Essential Element of Resilience: Ensuring that all resilience policies and programs strive for equitable and inclusive outcomes, in recognition that residents and stakeholders who experience demographic, geographic, economic, or environmental disparities are also disproportionally vulnerable to impacts of shocks and stresses
  • Resilience Finance: Expanding on programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS), which provide economic incentives for communities and property owners who mitigate for hazards, or resilience bonds that support increased physical protection and financial insurance against disasters
  • Public Education and Involvement in Resilience: Educating community leaders and residents of all ages on the interrelated issues of hazard/climate risk reduction, mitigation, adaptation, sustainability, responsible consumption and production, and social determinants of health
  • Adaptation of the Built Environment: Investing in and building infrastructure improvements and land-use modifications that will allow communities to respond proactively and sustainably to changing environmental, economic, and social conditions
  • Preparedness, Response, and Recovery for Shocks and Stresses: Planning for resilient logistical, fiscal, and economic responses to shocks and stresses as well as an inclusive approach to disaster preparation, response, and recovery. Supporting legislation, regulation, and land-use authority that will direct the development and implementation of coordinated resilience and risk reduction measures
  • Protection of Vulnerable People, Places, and Systems: Identifying vulnerable people, places, and systems, devising strategies with stakeholder input to mitigate hazard impacts, and ensuring full and rigorous implementation that promotes equity and protects vulnerable populations and assets
  • Natural and Nature-Based Solutions for Resilience: Developing green infrastructure solutions that mimic nature, minimize environmental damage, and address flooding, urban heat, air quality, and quality of life
  • Public Health as an Element of Resilience: Explicitly addressing public health/social determinants of health considerations in natural and man-made resilience and sustainability planning, community engagement, and implementation.

Topic Examples

In addition to originating in at least one of the Learning Areas above, coursework provided under the AICP Sustainability and Resilience (S&R) CM Targeted Credit Program must also build knowledge about at least one of the following 12 topics (or sub-topics thereof).

Disruptors of S&R

  • Climate phenomena and science, including global warming, sea level rise, storm intensity, etc.
  • Extreme natural hazards, including hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, flooding and/or drought, excessive heat, etc.

Addressing Climate Change

  • Climate change adaptation, such as green infrastructure, transit-oriented development, infill development, or complete streets
  • Climate change mitigation, such as alternative energy and infrastructure/utility modalities, life-cycle assessment in building and development, green building and design, regenerative building, hazard zone designation, or waste reduction

Strategies Advancing S&R

  • Social equity, such as institutional, political, and economic strategies advancing equity; environmental justice; mitigating gentrification/displacement
  • Public health issues and outcomes, such as strategies to address epidemics and health issues such as infant mortality, obesity, addiction, and life expectancy
  • Economic strategies, addressing the rise or collapse of key industries; changes in financial, regulatory, or tax systems; changes in wealth distribution
  • Preparedness strategies addressing shocks and stresses to the community and environment

Tools & Mechanisms for S&R

  • Policy tools and development that promote strategic change and/or regulatory improvement
  • Finance tools, such as tax incentives, subsidies, (revolving) loan programs, grants, bonds, trade programs, public-private partnerships
  • Technology tools, such as breakthroughs in energy generation and distribution, communications/smart city monitoring, or transportation

Multidimensional Interaction for S&R

  • Interdisciplinary approaches, such as approaches that span many disciplines and sectors and are improved by interdisciplinary coordination — from environmental psychology to ecology, from public health to landscape architecture, from the built environment to the natural environment


Speakers or groups presenting sessions that qualify for the Sustainability and Resilience CM Credit must include one speaker who is either AICP or FAICP. Speakers must be subject matter experts, or thought leaders, or have substantial experience in the sustainability and resilience field, including within the learning areas or topic areas that are the primary presentation subject as described in the Sustainability and Resilience CM Credit Criteria. A session's speakers should collectively have a breadth of experience in implementation as well as theoretical and/or academic experience.

Not all speakers need to be AICP or FAICP. Depending on the specific topic, speakers from other disciplines or related fields may be equally if not better qualified to present on a specific topic. Speakers should have presentations, including conference presentations, and experience. Consistent with APA policies regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity, speakers from diverse sectors, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, cultures, abilities, and other groups representing underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged.

Examples and Resources


APA Resources

APA Climate Change Policy Guide, 2020. (Sources for this document include, but are not limited to, the IPCC 2018 Special Report on Global Warming, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Economy Model, the USDA Forest Service Climate Change Tree Atlas 2020, and APA Sustaining Places PAS Report 576). The "Sustainability Learning Areas" were adapted from this source.

APA Hazard Mitigation Policy Guide, 2020. (Sources for this document include, but are not limited to, the FEMA National Disaster Recovery Framework (Second Edition 2016), FEMA Local Mitigation Planning handbook (2013), and the APA's Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery PAS Report 576. The criteria in "Resilience Learning Areas" and "hazard mitigation" definitions were adapted from this source.

APA Planning for Equity Policy Guide, 2019. "Equity," "diversity," and "inclusion" definitions were adapted from those in the Equity Mandatory CM Credit Criteria (draft), 2020.

APA PAS Report 578 Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans by David R. Godschalk, FAICP, and David C. Rouse, FAICP, 2015. The "sustainability" and "climate adaptation" definitions as well as the "Sustainability Learning Areas" of these criteria originated from this source.

APA PAS Report 596 Planning for Infrastructure Resilience by Joseph DeAngelis, AICP, Haley Briel, and Michael Lauer, AICP, 2019.

APA Research KnowledgeBase Collection: Hazard Mitigation. A resource limited to APA members.

APA Research KnowledgeBase Collection: Social Equity. A resource limited to APA members.

Additional Resources


Ecosystem Services (Research Program of Climate Change and Food Security, CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), 2014 and ongoing, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands)

Fourth National Climate Assessment

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 10/2018 Special Report on Global Warming

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global transportation-related emissions

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Centre Glossary. The "greenhouse gas" definition is adapted from this source.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Ellen MacArthur Foundation City Resilience Framework, updated December 2015, and 100 Resilient Cities. The resilience definition was adapted from this source.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

USDA Forest Service Climate Change Tree Atlas (Prasad, A. M., L. R. Iverson., S. Matthews., M. Peters. 2007-ongoing. A Climate Change Atlas for 134 Forest Tree Species of the Eastern United States, Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Delaware, Ohio.

Key Terms

Climate Adaptation — Adjusting natural and human systems to projected impacts such as sea level rise and increased frequencies of extreme weather events as well as long-term shifts in precipitation levels, growing season length, and native vegetation and wildlife populations. Successful adaptation strategies reduce community vulnerability and minimize adverse effects on the environment, economy, and public health

Diversity — Awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our differences; the value of different perspectives and experiences such as race, ethnicity, culture, age, generation, immigration status, household type, family composition, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious beliefs. Identity and difference are represented individually and collectively

Equity — Just and fair treatment in society in which all can participate and reach their full potential. Just and fair distribution of resources and improvements so that all people and communities can prosper

Green Infrastructure — A strategically planned and managed network of wilderness, parks, greenways, conservation easements, and working lands with conservation value, typically at the regional scale (Benedict and McMahon, Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities, Island Press, 2006) and also more specifically a stormwater management approach that mimics natural hydrologic processes, typically at the local and site scales (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Common to both definitions is the notion that green infrastructure provides environmental, economic, and social co-benefits

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) — Gaseous constituent of the atmosphere, either natural or anthropogenic, that absorbs and emits radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds, causing the greenhouse effect (warming of the atmosphere). Water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere

Hazard Mitigation — A series of actions that lessen the severity or intensity of a natural or man-made hazard when it strikes

Inclusion — The outcome of equity and social justice work for all people. To be included and not excluded. Plan spaces and places where all people feel welcome, welcoming and inviting everyone to contribute and participate