The key influence in the 20th century was the rise of the professional. It was their expertise - of the civil engineer, the doctor, the teacher, the lawyer - which gave them the authority in the middle decades to define the public interest and preside over the expansion of the welfare state. These professionals did well out of it. Their numbers increased, but their patronising claim to always "know best" brought us both a self-confident public domain and patronising arrogance; hideous tower blocks, destroyed town centres and a lack of accountability. So when politicians began their onslaught they found fertile territory among a disaffected public; hence the apathy and indifference as the "family silver" was sold off or subjected to market principles of competition and efficiency.
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.