Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems

NEW PAPER: Social acceptance and perceived ecosystem services of urban agriculture in Southern Europe: The case of Bologna, Italy

New paper of Susturbanfoods published in Plos ONE.

ABSTRACT: Urban agriculture has become a common form of urban land use in European cities linked to multiple environmental, social and economic benefits, as well as to diversified forms (from self-production allotments to high-tech companies). Social acceptance will determine the development of urban agriculture and specific knowledge on citizens’ perception is required in order to set the basis for policy-making and planning. The ecosystem services provided by urban agriculture can be determinant in this process. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the social acceptance and the perceived ecosystem services of urban agriculture in the city of Bologna (Italy), as an example of a Southern European city. In particular, we evaluated the preferences for urban land uses, for different typologies of urban agriculture and for the resulting products, the perceived provision of ecosystem services and the willingness to engage in new initiatives. A survey that investigated these topics (including open questions, closed questions and Likert-scale evaluation) was performed on the citizens of Bologna (n = 380) between October and November 2016. Results showed that urban agriculture is widely accepted by the inhabitants of Bologna, particularly regarding vegetable production. Although intensive farming systems were the least preferred forms to be implemented in Bologna, citizens highly accepted a large variety of urban agriculture goods, with preference for those obtained from plants as compared to animal products. The willingness-to-pay for urban food products was mostly the same as for conventional ones, although the participants recognised the social values, proximity and quality of the former. Socio-cultural ecosystem services were perceived as more valuable than environmental ones. Policy-making recommendations can be extracted from the results to facilitate the development of urban agriculture plans and policies.

Link to the publication here.


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