Effects of the COVID-19 Outbreak on the Use and Perceptions of Metropolitan Agricultural Parks—Evidence from Milan and Naples of Urban and Environmental Resilience

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This article describes the multi-function of the metropolitan agricultural parks (MAPs) in Milan (Parco Agricolo Sud Milano) and Naples (Parco De Filippo) and their resilience within the last COVID-19 lockdown period. These parks play an important role in the urban regeneration and social inclusion processes in their relative metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, the restrictions imposed to limit COVID-19 contagions have imposed their closure or severely limited their activities, with evident consequences for the local population’s well-being. This study’s novelty is twofold: it is the first study examining the resilience and sustainability impact of MAPs during COVID-19; additionally, it is the first survey making use of Milan and Naples practices. The work uses primary and secondary data and mixed methods. Exploiting a document analysis and the elaboration of a semi-structured interview with the directors, the article lists the multiple functions of the parks and underlines their multidimensional governance vocations for fostering sustainable development – environmental, economic and social functions. The study also reveals that, during the lockdown, the parks’ activities were strongly reduced or restructured. Recreational and educational activities were lifted in Parco Agricolo Sud in Milan whilst local farms restructured their food supply and fostered their network and linkages with the urban distribution channels. MAP in Naples had to stop its activities and reorganize into a smart-working system. Lastly, our study found that economic and farm network activities were resumed with greater urgency in Milan, whereas in Naples the recovery of the social practices has taken on greater importance.

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Sustainability (Switzerland)



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