A growing array of world events impacts the future of planners. For example:
- The world has shifted from rural to urban: By the middle of 2009, the number of people living in urban areas surpassed the number living in rural areas.
- Cities thrive as places of vitality and design, yet inequality exists: In thriving cities like Washington, D.C., and Beijing, affordable housing is challenging. In cities in transition like Detroit and Pittsburgh, housing is affordable and overabundant. Transportation in both settings greatly affects livability in terms of accessibility and linkages between homes and jobs.
- Populations continue to grow and that growth is centered in cities: The world urban population is expected to increase 84 percent by 2050. Such population growth strains cities’ energy supplies, clean water, food systems, and housing.
- Climate change is happening. Glacial changes documented by major environmental organizations have marked the beginning of the modern climate era. How does this impact us? It has begun and will continue to yield extreme weather events with catastrophic local impacts: Hurricane Katrina and Sandy; the Polar Vortex; Japanese tsunamis, West Coast drought, and so on.
- Power, demographic, and economic shifts are increasingly global. As more manufacturing and business occurs in other parts of the world, local decisions have international impacts while global decisions yield local impacts.
- The list goes on…
What does this have to do with urban planning? Everything.
Planners are at the core of local, regional, and national change.