Chapter 4: When feelings become scientific facts: valuing cultural ecosystem services and taking them into account in public decision-making
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Chapter 4 addresses the fact that people’s feelings are difficult to incorporate in today’s environmental decision-making procedures, given those procedures’ reliance on objective, rather than subjective, arguments. The purpose of this chapter is to show that science and technology can turn feelings into facts, hence enhancing the functioning of public participation procedures. To this extent, the chapter first describes the legal duty in environmental decision making – found in both EU and international law – to include the relationship between facts and science on the one hand, and feelings and emotions on the other hand. Second, the chapter discusses how digital information and communication technologies (ICT) and geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to operationalize the emerging scientific paradigm of ecosystem services. Third, the chapter links ecosystem services science to the legal framework for the protection of fundamental rights, focusing mainly on cultural ecosystem services. In this way, the chapter discusses the possibility of producing information that is legally binding.

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