The intercultural exchange of life-styles, gifts, and ideas is essential to human development, yet access to this interchange is severely restricted, in particular for many Third World rural communities. Residents may realize the significant effects of national and global events, and glean what they can by listening to radios in the streets and by conversing with neighbours in the regional towns, but these channels are minimal compared with what is both needed and desired. Travel to the market centre is the major contact point with the world, and travel beyond that is almost inconceivable. Women in particular do not expect to go far from their own village, and resources which might enrich and develop family life are felt to be so far off as to be virtually inaccessible. Access to the varying experiences and educational options that might enable village people to create a more effective life-style are strictly limited, nor are there means for the village culture to express itself to the nation or to the world.
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.