Emerging Trends in Regional Planning


  • The evolution of regional planning governance in the United States, including emerging forms of regionalism such as planning “collaboratives” that connect public agencies with universities and non-governmental organizations   
  • Current and emerging topics being addressed through regional planning efforts, including planning for water, habitat, open space, climate, economic development, and public health  
  • Trends in public engagement and new approaches to implement regional planning goals and policies  


Over the past several decades, regional planning in the United States has undergone an evolution. It continues to evolve today. The dominant pattern in much of the 20th century was crafting regional plans to address single issues, such as regional plans for transportation or regional economic development strategies. Regional planning has become more multidimensional and comprehensive, and is now addressing a range of issues, including land use, transportation, open space, water resource management, climate change, and public health. 

Explore the highlights of the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) report “Emerging Trends in Regional Planning,” written and edited by members of the APA Regional and Intergovernmental Planning Division. The report identifies six key trends in regional planning in the United States and discusses how these trends align with the comprehensive planning principles and standards of APA’s “Sustaining Places” Initiative. Hear from representatives of three diverse regions with unique regional planning programs focused on environmental resource management (Cape Cod, North Texas, and Puget Sound), and learn how these regions reflect the emerging trends identified in the PAS report.