Sustaining Places Initiative

APA's Sustaining Places Initiative

In March 2010 at the United Nations Fifth World Urban Forum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, APA Past President Bruce Knight, FAICP, formally announced the American Planning Association's Sustaining Places Initiative. Following the announcement, APA has continued to define the role of planning in creating sustaining places in all facets of the organization.

The Sustaining Places Initiative is a multiyear, multifaceted program to define the role of planning in addressing all human settlement issues relating to sustainability. It examines how places can be sustained and how places themselves sustain life and civilizations. Planning's comprehensive focus is not limited to a building or a site but encompasses all scales and all forms of organization of human settlements. Sustaining places is a consistent theme in APA blogs, research, events, education, outreach, international planning, and other resources.


APA has developed standards for comprehensive plans for sustaining places to serve as the concise, go-to resource for desired content for comprehensive plans. These standards build the foundation for developing a designation program that recognizes exemplary comprehensive plans aimed at sustaining places.

APA's conducts applied research on numerous sustainability-related topics. These projects and programs include the Water and Planning initiative, Creative Placemaking in Planning, Getting Ready for Autonomous Vehicles, Great Urban Parks Campaign, NOAA Digital Coast, and the Urban Climate Action Network.


APA has adopted a number of policy guides on sustainability topics, including Smart Growth, Climate Change, Energy, Hazard Mitigation, Waste Management, and Water.

International Planning

APA is a founding member of Global Planners Network, a network of national planning associations that share planning ideas, approaches, and good practices and thereby build the capacities for planning across the globe. APA remains engaged with UN-HABITAT's World Urban Campaign, an international effort to raise awareness about the challenges of global urbanization.

The winner of the 2017 Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Excellence Award is the Bhubaneswar Smart City Plan from Bhubaneswar, India.

Smart Cities and Sustainability Task Force

The Smart Cities and Sustainability Task Force, a collaborative effort of the Sustainable Communities, Technology, and Transportation Planning Divisions, reported in April 2015 on how technology advances are changing our communities and identified ways in which planners can lead on these important changes. Following the Task Force's report and recommendations, the Divisions Council continues to further the Smart Cities conversation as a cross-division initiative.