In recent years governance has come under strain in both industrialized and developing countries, albeit for different reasons. Whereas in the former countries the causes may be traced to the changing norms of political and economic life, in the latter the related problems have been intensified by the sharp contrast between the growth in social demands and the capacity of the institutional framework -- including the institutions of the state, the private sector and the civil society -- to satisfy them. Governance and appropriate systems of government have also emerged as an area of concern for international development organizations, in the wake of the realization that many projects supported with external financial and technical resources failed to yield the anticipated rates of return. One reason was that investments were made in highly distorted policy environments, which prevented benefits from materializing.
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.