Traditionally, environmental planning has been based predominantly on the interdisciplinary study of environmental systems, based mainly in the sciences and economics. Building a more environmentally stable future clearly requires some vision and as a basic component of any nationally strategy it should be sustainable and sound. Environmental problems are not recent developments, and in attempting to remedy them in the past, we have created solutions utilizing the existing scientific and economic framework that has been available. However, in recent decades it has become apparent that these problems encompass more than just science and economics, and a new innovative model is needed to supplant the traditional decision-making methods. This new model is called Collaborative Environmental Planning (CEP), and it is being used increasingly as an approach to solving resource issues and problems. The underlying value system has essentially been an economic market model. Some researchers believe that this approach does not capture the wide range of societal values and concerns about the environment and are suggesting a more multi-disciplinary approach that emphasizes long-term resource management and sustainability.
New approaches are emerging that combine interdisciplinary science, ecological economics, and social sciences. Most importantly though are the collaborative processes which aim to integrate a wide range of values and perspectives in environmental management. The ecosystem approach, focuses on a new scientific framework from which to examine environmental problems, it focuses on an expanded definition of ecosystem.Similarly, “Bioregionalism” is the political, social, and managerial approach, which incorporates humans and their environment into the same planning model, rather than belonging to separate ecosystems models.
Collaborative Environmental Planning (CEP) is the broader knowledge and value framework from which to examine environmental problems. Not only are issues studied from this new scientific perspective, but non-scientific considerations are included as well. "Collaboration is a process through which 'parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible. It is evident that collaborative decision-making is no small task, however it is being applied to environmental planning and management.