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 2022 Trend Report for Planners features nearly 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
Petra (Stieninger) Hurtado is the Research Director 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. Her areas of expertise and research include urban futures and foresight, urban sustainability, smart cities, emerging technologies, nature-based solutions, and environmental psychology. In addition, Petra teaches a course on "community visioning with foresight" at the University of Maryland. Prior to joining APA, she worked as an advisor, planner, researcher, and educator in the global urban sustainability arena. She has a Ph.D. in urban planning from the Vienna University of Technology, where she teaches on urban sustainability and environmental psychology. Additionally, she has been a guest lecturer at Harvard GSD, Loyola University Chicago and the Universidad Tecnologica de Bolivar. Petra has authored and co-authored multiple books, research papers, publicly funded reports, and articles and has presented as a subject matter expert at numerous conferences around the globe.
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 research associate at the American Planning Association. She supports sponsored and strategic research projects and writes 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
Trends for 2022
The trends in this report are structured in three timeframes, which indicate the urgency of planners' action. Within each timeframe, trends are grouped into themed clusters.
The Trends We Need to Act on Now
The climate emergency
Decarbonization and diversification of transportation
Digitalization of everything
Health equity and nature
Housing affordability, availability, accessibility
Political shifts and polarization
Population diversity and inclusive design
The Trends We Need to Prepare For
Artificial Intelligence and ethics
Automation of transportation
Data collection, use, and protection
Private-sector community investment
The Trends We Need to Learn and Watch
Community funding for equity
The Great Resignation and dislocation of work
Privatization of outer space
The Future of Planning
Planning Competencies and Skills
Plan Tech: Updating the Planner’s Toolkit