Environmental planning is simply the process to facilitate the decision on how to carry out land development with the consideration given to the natural environment, social, political, economic and governance factors in provision to a holistic framework in achieving sustainable outcomes.
The major goal of environmental planning is to create sustainable communities with the aim to conserve and protect undeveloped land. Environmental planning is more concern with the decision making process required to manage relationships that exist within and between natural systems and human systems.
Environmental planning endeavours to manage the process in an effective, orderly, transparent and equitable manner for the benefit of all constituents within such systems for the present and for the future. Present-day environmental planning practices are the result of continuous refinement and expansion of the scope of such decision-making processes.
Some of the main elements of present-day environmental planning
Economic and Social Development
This is the process by which the economic well-being and quality of life of a nation, region, or local community are improved according to targeted goals and objectives. The term economic and social development has been used frequently in the 20th and 21st centuries, but the concept has existed in the West for far longer. “Modernization“, “Westernization“, and especially “industrialization” are other terms often used while discussing economic development.
Economic development alone is the policy intervention aiming to improve the well-being of people, economic growth is a phenomenon of market productivity and increases in GDP; economist Amartya Sen describes economic growth as but “one aspect of the process of economic development”.
Economists primarily focus on the growth aspect and the economy at large, whereas researchers of community economic development concern themselves with socioeconomic development as well. Continue reading
This is the technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks. Urban planning deals with the physical layout of human settlements.
Urban planning primary concern is the public welfare of the people, which includes considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, as well as effects on social and economic activities. Urban planning is considered an interdisciplinary field that includes social science, architecture, human geography, politics, engineering and design sciences.
Urban planning often guides orderly development in urban, suburban and rural areas. Although predominantly concerned with the planning of settlements and communities, urban planning is also responsible for the planning and development of water use and resources, rural and agricultural land, parks and conserving areas of natural environmental significance. Continue reading
This is the provision of aid and other assistance to regions which are less economically developed. Regional development may be domestic or international in nature. The implications and scope of regional development may, therefore, vary in accordance with the definition of a region, and how the region and its boundaries are perceived internally and externally.
Regional development policy in the past tends to try to achieve these objectives by means of large-scale infrastructure development and by attracting inward investment. The past policies have failed to reduce regional disparities significantly and have not been able to help individual lagging regions to catch up, despite the allocation of significant public funding. The result is the under-used economic potential and weakened social cohesion.
Natural Resource Management
This simply refers to the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations. Natural resource management deals with managing the way in which people and natural landscapes interact.
Natural resource management brings together land use planning, water management, biodiversity conservation, and the future sustainability of industries like agriculture, mining, tourism, fisheries and forestry. Natural resource management recognises that people and their livelihoods rely on the health and productivity of our landscapes, and their actions as stewards of the land play a critical role in maintaining this health and productivity.
It specifically focuses on a scientific and technical understanding of resources and ecology and the life-supporting capacity of those resources. Environmental management is also similar to natural resource management. In academic contexts, the sociology of natural resources is closely related to, but distinct from, natural resource management. Continue reading
This is the combination of multiple disciplines and its major application is for policymaking and integrated planning. Energy, land use, transportation and building technologies are highly interdependent and fruitful results could only be obtained if a holistic plan is being made and in that case, Infrastructure planning comes into play.
Studies of infrastructure planning are a combination of planning, engineering, sociology and economics. Usually, engineers, architects and urban planners can take these courses. Infrastructure makes our daily lives possible in the manner to which we’ve grown accustomed and we don’t give it much thought.
It is only when there is a problem, something stops working, we outgrow current capabilities, or repairs are required that people take notice of the water treatment facilities, sewer lines, roads, utility grids, bridges, and railways that underwrite our daily lives. Proper and consistent infrastructure planning and management is vitally important, and well thought out asset management is crucial to the daily lives of millions of people. Continue reading
These the structure of a government and reflect the interrelated relationships, factors, and other influences upon the institution. The governance structure is often used interchangeably with governance framework as they both refer to the structure of the governance of the organization.
Governance frameworks structure and delineate power and the governing or management roles in an organization. They also set rules, procedures, and other informational guidelines. In addition, governance frameworks define, guide, and provide for enforcement of these processes.
These frameworks are shaped by the goals, strategic mandates, financial incentives, and established power structures and processes of the organization.
The governance frameworks establish and perpetuate the efficiency or lack of efficiency in an organization or institution’s ability to meet its goals, and even their public relations and perception. The organization of the governance framework is important for the success of the organization meeting its goals. Continue reading
Professional Bodies Responsible for Environmental Planning
American Planning Association
This is not just for city planners, the American Planning Association offers networking opportunities, educational resources and conferences for all professionals working in the city or regional planning. American Planning Association also offers career services, like job listings and career development resources.
National Association of Environmental Professionals
Anyone from student to a seasoned professional in environmental planning, research or management who is not a member should seriously consider joining the National Association of Environmental Professionals, the member benefits include committee reports and discounted classes, seminars and meetings.
This is a progressive association concerned with urban and rural planning, the Planners Network serves academics, activists, planning professionals and students. Planners Network host conferences and have at least 16 local chapters in Canada and the United States.
Society of Women Environmental Professionals
This is a national organization with numerous city chapters serving women in environmental law, planning, business and engineering. This organization was created to encourage and promote the leadership, achievement, and professional development of women in the environmental professions.
And also to provide an informal setting for women in the environmental professions to meet, share substantive information and work experiences, and to establish a communications exchange. Society of Women Environmental Professionals educate members on new developments and current trends in the environmental field, And to encourage and promote the development of business relationships.
You need to join a couple of relevant professional associations and participate however you can. If there is a forum, use it. Attend the meetings if time and finances permit.
Definitely do attend local networking events. Consider volunteering, as this increases your visibility within the organization and allows you to meet a few potential employers that may offer an opportunity to obtain your next challenging career opportunity in the industry.
Involvement in the environmental industry, especially through professional organizations with assisting you in keeping yourself visible in the industry and offer potential long term professional success as your career advances in the coming years.
The best environmental professionals have always advanced their skills and qualifications utilizing the professional associations that have been available to them over the years; whether for career networking, business development or technical advancement. Associations are a worthy cause to put your time into.
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