Whenever effective development takes place, a major effort is spent creating a cultural framework which motivates citizens. This framework, based on geography, history, vision of the future and labour gives direction to all aspects of the community effort. The basis of the community's identity is out of date and the community senses that its historical role is completed, the sense of self-identity fades as do the languages, practices and customs which developed around the old identity. Individuals and organizations outside the community may reenforce the sense of lost identity by the way they relate to the community. The community's sense of what is significant responsibilities of citizens may also reenforce the identity of the community. Only when small rural communities recreate their cultural identity in terms relevant to the contemporary world will the residents have the motivation to necessary to sustain development efforts.
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.