Governments can no longer take it for granted, as they might have done 20 years ago, that a major resource development company or transnational company will always stand behind a wholly-owned subsidiary which has been held liable for damages in an environmental catastrophe or large lawsuit. The financial consequences of such events as Bophal and the Exxon Valdez can have a very damaging impact on the balance sheet of even the largest and strongest corporations. With the increasing emphasis on environmental concerns, governments see the need for parent company guarantees and increasingly companies are declining to accept open-ended commitments which could, on a worst-case assumption, run into billions of dollars. There is a weakness in the present guidance for direct foreign investors in developing countries as to how governments can secure guarantees for project-specific companies or transnational subsidiaries.
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.