The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Unlimited educational opportunity is only available to the rich, and to a few among those of genius and talent who are poor, if they are discovered. In developed countries it is the universities and colleges which are out of reach for millions; in the developing countries it is education after age thirteen or fourteen. Even where free education is available, the poor student lacks equal nutrition, equal probability of good health, and equal reinforcement in his family environment for his scholastic endeavours. Minority students are discriminated against in a number of ways, up to and including the practice of apartheid or racial segregation and enrolment in inferior schools. Segregation on the basis of sex, aptitude, handicap or intelligence testing is also widespread.
Cultural deprivation may be equated with a lack of education or the loss of cultural heritage. The adverse effects of the former include inequality of opportunity and other inequalities stemming from this, apart from a general lack of social development and lack of individual development. The latter may lead to social and ethnic disintegration.
Cultural deprivation in the educative sense may be caused by poverty and a general underprivileged environment which is not conducive to a child's development or to his or her gaining the most from the educational system (which may in any case, be deficient for these groups). It may also be caused by handicaps such as reading disabilities. In the purely cultural sense deprivation may be caused by a lack of emphasis on culture in educational policy which may direct studies away from the arts or philosophy to purely technical training. Cultural deprivation in the sense of loss of cultural heritage may be caused by a deliberate policy of forced assimilation to suppress a minority culture or by an educational policy which gives inadequate attention to the cultural heritage of minorities, not seeking to integrate them fully into society.
Human activities strongly influence a population's states of health and disease. For example, an energy-rich food supply combined with a plethora of energy saving devices, from cars to TV lounges, appears to be responsible for much of the increase in obesity which affluent societies have experienced in the past half century.