Transition into the new era brings with it a loss of freedom due to a failure to recognize the necessity for tensions and ambiguity as integral parts of free choice. A new paradigm is emerging that has, as an essential value, the participation of all people in the creation of their own future and that people have the freedom to participate. There is a tendency to teach that to escape tension and ambiguity is to be free. This understanding glorifies the escape patterns of the affluent society. It reinforces the tendency to render roles meaningless. It encourages people to react to life rather than to respond out of some self-understanding and world view. It discourages self-conscious decision-making and a realistic view of one's situation because a search for means of escape from difficulties becomes of paramount importance, rather than the creation of possibilities. Action is turned from meaningful responses to the future, towards self-seeking avoidance of pain.
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.