The high cost and time taken in transportation discourage mobility except for dire emergency and for securing locally unavailable necessities, and the residents of many communities have only very limited relations with the world beyond their particular village. Current work patterns demanded by subsistence living confine the individual to the village, the fields, and the home. The practical benefits of modern society may be vaguely known but are seldom available, and appreciation of outside experience is frustrated by the villager's experience of, or stories about, its complex structures. Lack of a constant flow of information inhibits practical knowledge of technical resources and marketing possibilities which directly affect the local economy; and, with only word of mouth reports of what is happening in the nearby vicinity, the imagination of the people is stifled. They have little understanding of the regional, national or global dynamics which actually affect their lives, and little perception of how they can creatively participate in today's society.
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.