Integrating sciences relevant to environmental questions Integrating sciences relevant to the environment at all political and geographic levels
One challenge is to develop integrated approaches to planning and analysis. A key constraint to the emergence of strong sustainability institutions is the fragmentation of research into disciplines, government units into sectors, and so on. Designing frameworks for linking across subjects and sectors, over various spatial scales, regions and themes, to give a more integrated perspective, is becoming essential to a full understanding of the planetary and human environments.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends intensifying research to integrate the physical, economic and social sciences so as to understand better the impact of economic and social behaviour on the environment and of environmental degradation on local and global economies. It also recommends integrating all relevant sciences at the national, regional and global levels so to have the means of carrying out national and regional audits and a five-year global audit on an integrated basis. These standardized audits should help refine the pattern and character of development, examining in particular the capacities of global and regional life-supporting systems to meet the needs of human and non-human life forms and identifying areas and resources vulnerable to further degradation.
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.