The total volume of road freight is stagnating but lorry activity is increasing. Products are now being transported ever longer distances. This is in response to the global economy with its world centres of production, local economies which centralize production, and large volume production and consumption strategies of supermarkets and retail chains. It is also a response to consumer demand for exotic products and year-round availability of summer fruits or winter vegetables rather than what is seasonal to the locality. Increased shipping of consumer products is contributing directly to road congestion and the environmental impacts of road transport, and indirectly to the environmental impacts of consumer products.
Since 1950, the volume of goods taken over long distances by road in Europe has doubled while that of goods taken up to 50 kilometres has stayed roughly the same. Only the milk in a particular pot of a south German yoghurt had travelled less than 50 kilometres to the factory. The item also contained corn and wheat powder transported from all over Europe, yoghurt culture from the north of Germany, strawberries from Poland, Scandinavian paper, and the plastic box, securing labels, resin, glue, sugar, and stickers all from faraway places.
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.