Planning for unforeseeable contingencies Developing strategic resilience in response to recurrent societal turbulence
One of the major challenges to policy makers concerned with sustainable development is how to cope with surprises and discontinuities, whether favourable or adverse, and how to develop contingency plans or "hedging" strategies that take into account not just the probable trends, but also the unexpected. Recent examples of surprises include the discovery of the Antarctic "ozone hole", the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Bhopal, the dramatic spread of the AIDS epidemic worldwide, or the scientific discoveries leading to the rapid development of biotechnology. Such surprises often produce a huge societal response and rapid shifts in science and technology priorities. None of these events are foreseeable, especially as to their timing relative to many other political or technological developments.
Proposed development strategies or technology options must be assessed not only with respect to their expected benefits, costs and risks under existing trends but also with respect to their sensitivity to unanticipated events, both favourable and unfavourable.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a unique, experimental research work of the Union of International Associations. It is currently published as a searchable online platform with profiles of world problems, action strategies, and human values that are interlinked in novel and innovative ways. These connections are based on a range of relationships such as broader and narrower scope, aggravation, relatedness and more. By concentrating on these links and relationships, the Encyclopedia is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the complex and expansive sphere of global issues and their interconnected nature.
The initial content for the Encyclopedia was seeded from UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations. UIA’s decades of collected data on the enormous variety of association life provided a broad initial perspective on the myriad problems of humanity. Recognizing that international associations are generally confronting world problems and developing action strategies based on particular values, the initial content was based on the descriptions, aims, titles and profiles of international associations.
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.