Urban life is based on amenities. They include sanitation systems and other hygienic services and facilities that range from inside plumbing to public enforcement of hygienic food-handling laws. Essential amenities are: food distribution to a wide number of outlet points; water for drinking, cooking, washing and for commercial and industrial use as well as for fire-fighting and recreation; law enforcement; hospitals and all health services; well-maintaining roadways and pavements; public transportation; parks and recreation areas; and breathable, fresh air. While urban life is based on amenities, its maintenance involves their deterioration and destruction. Natural resources such as city air and water are polluted; sunlight is blocked by high-rise buildings or smog; population pressure destroys parks and recreation facilities, brings excessive automobile and vehicle traffic and engine-exhausts, wears out public transportation equipment, and generally causes the deterioration of every city service including education, law enforcement, and health care.
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.