Regulation is still the core instrument of environmental policy. Legislation for environmental protection concentrates on standards, bans, permits and quotas and, in some cases, specification of technologies or technical standards to be used in industry. These instruments have long been favoured because they promise certainty of outcome.
The industrialized countries enacted a 'first generation' of legislation in the 1960s and 1970s, aimed principally at protecting human health from the impacts of air, water and soil pollution. In the 1990s, many countries reformed their sectoral environmental approaches into better integrated strategic policies. Comprehensive environmental protection laws are now in place in the newly industrializing countries and other developing countries.
Command-and-control legislation has its limitations, notably the time needed to draft, enact and implement adequate laws, the inflexibility of regulation and possible cost-inefficiencies in implementation on the ground. In addition, problems with inspection and enforcement, especially in rapidly developing nations, appear to be worsening as limited capacity and resources face an explosion of industrial activity and urbanization.
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.