Inadequate application of available knowledge to solve problems
Difficulties in applying knowledge Inapplicability of formal learning
Scientists are not naturally interested in the problems posed by the threats to human survival, since such problems are only rarely attractive for "pure" research. Commercial interests with research facilities are also not interested, especially since it is often their cost-cutting practices which create the problems in the first place. Government agencies are also not interested since their officials sincerely believe that absence of evidence is the same as evidence of absence of risk. In addition, for new problems, no agency may have a mandate to deal with it anyway. Society currently depends on the activities of independent, unauthorized pressure groups, aided by the media, to create some degree of panic against which all official and academic reassurances are unavailing. Only then are efforts made to apply knowledge effectively to respond to the threats to society.
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.