Developed by Chris some 14 years ago, the SVM is a holistic tool for evaluating sustainability which has been applied in a wide variety of applications, such as for evaluating community development, green buildings, ecological tourism, participation processes and cultural heritage. It has been used in countries as varied as Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Slovenia, Hungary, Australia, USA and Costa Rica.

Given today’s obsession with quantitative and reductionist thinking, humankind’s key challenge is to develop ways of seeing and working in a holistic way. This necessarily involves handling both quantities and qualities at the same time. This is what the SVM enables us to do. It also highlights the trade-offs inherent in decision making, between ecological, economic and social considerations.

Designed not just for experts but for all stakeholders, SVM users make their own specific set of criteria depending on the nature of their project. This initial phase of using the SVM is in itself an important step in putting all issues on the table and seeing the different agendas and priorities of those involved.

Deep Ecology asks us to apprehend the world as an integrated experiential field. Reductionist scientists, economists and engineers usually hate mixing quantities and qualities (or facts and values) in the same discussion. But this is exactly what we must do in order to make wise decisions, where statistics, costs, or tons of carbon inform but do not override the holistic view which the world needs.