Local development is hampered by a time rhythm which does not attach urgency to the task of implementing the dreams of the people. In daily community life, deadlines seem not to exist, and intended actions often encounter numerous delays. Unable to find ways of acting rapidly together to implement a community's vision, residents are unable to generate and sustain the motivation necessary for systematic development. Rural families living in one-room mud huts with hazardous thatched roofs may passively await promised housing; although water is usually scarce and is known to be contaminated, there is not much practical urgency attached to digging a village well; in some villages, afternoons are considered inappropriate work times and villagers work in the fields half days several times a week. The rapid growth of jungle vegetation makes keeping roads and footpaths cleared a never-ending task, carrying with it a subtle sense of the futility of any creative action.
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.