Programmes to improve the productivity and welfare of the poor, who in many countries do not share even a common language with government administrators, have always posed special problems. Increasing concern about the cost and replicability of programmes is leading to greater involvement of beneficiaries in the construction, maintenance, and financing of local projects that hitherto either were provided and run by government or were simply unavailable. People-centred programmes are particularly hard to manage because of the degree of uncertainty involved. First, goals can be abstract ("community self-reliance", for example) and performance not quantifiable in terms of construction time and costs or profits and losses. Second, there is little knowledge of how to design suitable programmes, because they involve changing human behaviour patterns that vary among cultures and localities. Third, the success of a project depends on whether people want the services it offers: project managers therefore often have to create demand. The task of management is thus more one of experimenting and learning than of implementing known procedures, as is the case with physical development.
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.