Inadequate coordination of action against problems
Unintegrated planning of action against problems
Social institutions face growing difficulties as a result of the increasing complexity arising directly and indirectly from development and assimilation of technology. Many of the most serious conflicts facing humanity result from the interaction of social, economic, technological, political and psychological forces and can no longer be solved by fractional approaches from individual disciplines. For example: economic growth can no longer be promoted without consideration of social consequences; technology can no longer be allowed to develop without consideration of the social prerequisites of change or the social consequences of such change.
The quality of individual life and that of the community is changing rapidly and in many senses deteriorating; foreseeable technological developments will have a still greater influence, presenting both opportunities for a richer life and attendant dangers. The large scale and complexity of problems are forcing decisions to be made at levels where individual participation of those affected is increasingly remote, threatening a crisis in political and social development. In the corporate environment, individual enterprises are tending to become larger and more complex. The multinational industrial activities which are developing can be expected increasingly to influence political relationships between the nations Scientific attack on these problems of complexity and interdependences is a matter of the utmost urgency. A corpus of knowledge already exists capable of immediate exploitation, and there is expectation of further and fruitful development. It is in relation to the development crisis that the planning function and related arts such as forecasting assume new significance. Planning should be concerned with the structural design of the system itself and involved in the formation of policy. However, the need for planning is not generally recognized; furthermore, where orthodox planning methods are pursued they prove quite insufficient, in that they seldom do more than touch a system through changes in the variables; diagnosis is often faulty and remedies proposed often merely suppress symptoms rather than attack the basic cause. But mere modification of policies already proved to be inadequate will not result a correct solution; too often planning is used to make situations which are inherently bad, more efficiently bad. The need is to plan systems as a whole, to understand the totality of factors involved and to intervene in the structural design to achieve more integrated operation. All large, complex systems are capable of some degree of self-adaptation. But in the face of immense technological, political, social and economic stresses, they will have to develop new structures. This can easily lead to grave social disturbances if the adaptation is not deliberately planned, but merely allowed to happen.
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.