Social issues overshadowed by economic issues in North-South discussions Unintegrated development Lack of understanding of social and economic contexts in development programmes Imbalance in economic and social planning
Economic development, and particularly industrialization, is too often implemented without due application of a unified approach of integrated and balanced economic and social planning. This may give rise to social problems and retards development. In many countries poverty and mass unemployment, for example, are so widespread and affect so critically the social equilibrium that they constitute, in themselves, blocks to further improvement. It is no longer possible to rely on the assumption that an expanding modern economic sector will, in a reasonable interval of time, absorb the mass of people and provide them with decent living standards.
Developing countries with their still-recent experience of colonialism, are disinclined to discuss their social structures and priorities with developed countries. The developed countries are also disinclined to negotiate what they consider purely internal matters, such as levels and patterns of consumption. The result is that economic issues dominate the North-South negotiations.
The content of North-South negotiations indicates that social issues are very much at the centre of concern. When food is being considered, for instance, although the focus is on the nuts and bolts of finance, production and distribution, the end result is more food for the hungry. Similarly, when the transfer of technology is negotiated, such vital social needs as employment, health and transportation shape the priorities of governments. In fact all economic negotiations are conducted with social ends in view.
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.
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