Environmental scarcities generate opportunities for powerful coalitions of elite members within countries to capture windfall wealth. Scarcities can boost the economic power of small elite groups who are increasingly able to ignore state dictates, shirk taxes on their greater wealth, and penetrate the state to make it do their bidding. In particular, they can lobby to change the property rights and other laws governing the use of scarce resources such as water, land, and forests. These groups have pursue such change because the state is usually able to generate large economic rents by expanding the range of permissible uses of resources and by granting monopolistic access to resources. In many societies, these rent-seeking elite groups influence the state through bribery, kickbacks, and other forms of corruption.
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.