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Governance of urban green spaces across Latin America - insights from semi-structured interviews to managers amid COVID-19

Sainz-Santamaria, Jaime; Martinez Cruz, Adan


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to managers of urban green spaces. As suggested by findings from 18 structured interviews from six Latin American countries reported in this paper, managers in Latin America have not been able to take the most advantage of available green space during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the core of this inability is a governance characterized by dependence on political will, lack of continuity due the nonexistence of civil service, limited autonomy, insufficient budgets, absence of formal paths to fund themselves, shortage of technical know-how, and insufficient citizens’ involvement. Thus, while a criticism to management of urban green spaces in developed cities is its focus on recreational services —with no attention to other ecosystem services—, management in Latin America is heavily constrained by funds that barely afford maintenance of basic infrastructure —with exceptions that we highlight in the manuscript. Consequently, managers of urban green spaces across Latin America have not successfully implemented adaptation measures that, for instance, European counterparts have —e.g. traffic management, information campaigns. In addition, these governance capabilities pose the risk of maladaptation. For instance, many managers in Latin America have formally resorted to a full closure of their premises during the COVID-19 lockdown but they have not successfully enforced such a closure, which likely has brought undesirable effects —e.g. more overcrowding than under a controlled no-closure scenario. We provide public policy recommendations, and a list of research questions specific to Latin America —an understudied region when it comes to both governance of urban green spaces, and the role of urban green spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Urban green spaces; COVID-19; maladaptation; governance; Latin America.

Published in

CERE Working Paper
2021, number: 2021:3
Publisher: Centre for Environmental and Resource Economics (CERE)

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture
    Environmental Management
    Public Administration Studies

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