Many small rural communities in developed nations have limited access or are unrelated to relevant social information and experience. Even if they are surrounded by a mass of information from a large metropolitan area, they tend to make little use of these resources. Life on family farms or in small villages accustoms people to a kind of isolating self-sufficiency, so they may not visit the nearest city for years, and they neither have experience of nor feel the need for social agencies. As, in addition, familiar cultural and recreational activities which once brought people together over a broad geographical area cease to be held, this increasingly limited exposure to the resources of the contemporary world perpetuates a rural isolation and parochial value system that undermines attempts at inter-community cooperation.
Although advances in technology have made it theoretically possible for the resources of the whole world to be at the disposal of every human settlement, many small communities are in fact deprived of these resources. Sewer systems, farm equipment, educational opportunities, outside investment in local projects, are but a few of the amenities lacking due to remoteness of service or lack of knowledge of what is available and how best to use it. These factors discourage the development of new industries and the augmenting of local services.
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.