There are inherent challenges in working with datasets on a global scale. Given that in general only data with the same definition, standards and date of measurement can be safely aggregated to a regional or global level, even small discrepancies or gaps can make datasets incomplete or otherwise deficient. On the other hand, even with good quality data, aggregation and averaging may mask important spatial or temporal diversity. In large-scale aggregations, issues unique to smaller regions disappear. Therefore the scale of aggregation and reporting of averages should be carefully matched with the scale of environmental issues or policies and the purpose of assessment.
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.