Different kinds of social system exist and develop in different time-configurations. This has important implications for the sustainability of their development. There are several different ways of perceiving and relating to time in addition to the scientific view of time as a linear succession of identical moments. Thus for some individuals, time is "meaning" as associated with particular events. Such differences in meaning constitute a form of temporal dissonance amongst the different systems in the world, affecting people, societies and ecosystems negatively when subject to forces requiring an acceleration of pace. They aggravate the perception that humanity is out of step with nature and is on a an unsustainable path.
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.