Sustainability Changes the Way Business is Done

As New York City’s PLANYC illustrates, the goals of a greener city for long-term sustainability are changing the way city building business is done.

A New Kind of Plan
Whether you call it a plan, a civic agenda or a political platform, PLANYC is unique in its content, outlining the challenges the city faces, its goals for the future and detailed implementation plans for achieving those goals. So often plans are created with goals, guidelines and drawings of what could be, but without an action plan as to what needs to be done, how, with whom and cost/sources of financing. What also makes the plan different is its holistic approach to initiatives and the government planning process.

Substantive Citizen Participation
The development of PLANYC was based on months of exhaustive information gathering not only within the walls of government but also from the outside. Citizens and experts alike were tapped for their knowledge about how to make a greener city, what are potential projects and programs and who the partners could be. A truly substantive citizen participation process took place, and the information gathered became part of the foundation for the plan.

Coordination Across Departments
The implementation section is interesting not only because of the level of detail given about each project but also the implication that a level of collaboration between disciplines and departments is required. The projects are defined, the lead agencies that need to work together identified, timeframe and funding sources detailed. The Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability has been expanded to oversee coordination and foster collaboration between departments in order for projects to be successfully completed and programs initiated.

Collaboration Through Layers of Government
The plan highlights the need to collaborate not only within the city bureaucracy but also outside of it, to ensure success. The implementation process often requires working with neighborhood, county, state and federal officials to garner support for a project and foster the necessary change in policy or process, if necessary. PLANYC acknowledges that few projects lie within the confines of one jurisdiction and that a coordinated approach needs to be taken to cultivate support throughout the layers.PLANYC is a wonderful example of a city plan – a clear vision initiated by the political leadership and supported by the public, achievable goals that reflect social, economic and environmental considerations, and an implementation plan that outlines projects and programs in detail while articulating a clear understanding of how to achieve success through collaboration and coordination.

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