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Young Planners: United for CHANGE

Ryan Walker is Young Planner of the Year 2021.

I set out my term as Young Planner of the Year with the aim of raising the profile of Planning and of Young Planners in particular. I was keen to ensure that, as a profession, we confidently cast our net further and wider than ever before as we push our outreach, engage with new audiences and inspire future planners. To achieve this, I developed three commitments to make practical and positive progress towards that aim.

In January 2020 the RTPI published its new 10-year Corporate Strategy with ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity’ one of four key integrated pillars. Committed to translate policy into practice, the RTPI then developed a more detailed action plan, entitled ‘CHANGE’, to help accelerate transformation and build a more diverse Institute and profession.

As a keen advocate for a more inclusive, accessible and welcoming profession, I was determined to reflect the values and commitments of CHANGE within my own work. On being awarded ‘RTPI Young Planner of the Year for 2021’, I set out three key commitments that I wanted to see delivered during my term. Enabling this, I set a collective challenge to all Young Planners spanning the length and breadth of the RTPI’s Regions and Nations:

  • Commitment 1: Each Young Planner Committee will actively support the recently appointed EDI Manager and look at how we can embed EDI into the work of each of our committees. In particular to ensure events, communication, and the composition of our committees are inclusive.
  • Commitment 2: Each Young Planner Committee commit to host one college or school engagement session. This is to supplement, not replace, any existing university careers event. The aim is to highlight the profession as an exciting and attractive option for students of all backgrounds, placing the profession on every radar as a potential career option from an early stage.
  • Commitment 3: Each Young Planner Committee commit to host one event with another professional body or community group. This is to demonstrate that we as planners are a collaborative and outward-facing profession, always seeking to create positive synergies for improved outcomes.

The Chairs of the Young Planners Network met in November 2021 to discuss these proposals and unanimously agreed to support the three commitments.

Positive progress has begun, and the Young Planners, with the help of the RTPI, are creating waves of change that will ripple across the UK.

This is the first time collective action has been taken by Young Planners regarding a direct campaign for greater Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity. Young Planners have carved out their own route, spoken as one voice, and responded to this area of great concern. Young Planners have made a bold commitment and are determined to help the RTPI in its long-held goal of generating change in the profession.

Moving forward, each Young Planner Committee will now work towards implementing the three commitments in their respective Region and Nation during 2022. Positive progress has begun, and the Young Planners, with the help of the RTPI, are creating waves of change that will ripple across the UK. With a greater diversity of voices invited to the table, the more enriched and reflective conversations we will have. I truly believe this approach and these commitments will lead to better outcomes for people, places and the planet.


Do you also have a vision to see change within the profession? Would you too like to be the voice of our future generation of talented planners? The RTPI encourages all young planners to apply for this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence – Young Planner of the Year. Entries are open until 11 March.

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