Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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Documents produced by international organizations contain a great deal of information about the problems they face. Faced with this overload of information, most bodies survive by ignoring all but a small fraction of information available, and focus instead on carving out a small niche and cultivate a network of similarly minded bodies. Their work entails trying to formulate the most powerful strategy possible for action, and undermining the initiatives of those whom they perceive to be causing or sustaining such problems.

There are problems with this approach. First, although there is agreement that there are many problems and that many are serious, little effort has been made to determine how many problems there are. Second, while it is becoming increasingly evident and accepted that problems interact with one another, and constitute complex networks or systems, little effort has been made to map this complexity. Such efforts have generally been limited to the production of simple maps of the relationships between major problems, or of more detailed maps for some particular problem area. These two factors mean that organizations seeking to solve world problems often do so in ignorance of the wider problem context in which they work - which hinders their work.

Indeed, the Encyclopedia includes a profile of the problem that is its own justification: Recurrence of misapprehended world problems. This is exacerbated by (amongst other things) the complex interrelationship of world problems, the failure to profit from patterns of history, inadequate public information concerning problems, structural amnesia in institutional systems, exclusion of opposing views, and the pursuit of affluence. It exists within the broader contexts of limited historical method and global amnesia...