The setback to development in the 1980s was largely induced by the deflationary external economic environment resulting from the restrictive macro-economic policies of the major market economy countries. Such policies did not even serve the interests of those countries, which had reduced inflation, but had triggered high unemployment rates, external imbalances, growing trade tensions and, above all, negative growth rates. It was however the developing countries that were hardest hit, particularly the poorest and least developed. For them the crisis meant collapsing commodity prices, worsening terms of trade, intensified protectionist and discriminatory measures, contracting financial flows, unstable exchange rates and monetary markets, and the burgeoning debt problem.
Major industrialized countries have become increasingly aware of the greater need for the coordination of their macro-economic policies. The interrelationship between commodities, trade, monetary and financial policies, together with the gravity of the debt problem, is now acknowledged.
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.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.