Union of Intelligible Associations (Complementary initiatives and historical context)
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Union of Intelligible Associations

Projects Overview (Explanations)
Global Strategies Project (Explanations)

Introduction: Background and acknowledgements

Global Strategies Project


1. Union of International Associations

The general background to the UIA long-term programme, through which the Encyclopedia as a whole is produced, is discussed in the Introduction (see 1.8).

Although this programme was initiated in 1972, of great historical interest is the initiative of the UIA after World War I that led to the publication of a Code des Voeux Internationaux; codification générale des voeux et résolutions des organismes internationaux (1923, 940 pages, under the auspices of the League of Nations). This listed those portions of the texts of international organization resolutions which covered substantive matters, including what are now regarded as world problems. It covered 1216 resolutions adopted at 151 international meetings. The subject index lists some 1200 items. Many of these could well be considered as action plans or strategies.

The current UIA interest in strategies dates from its involvement in the United Nations University project on Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (1978-1982), and notably the GPID sub-project on Alternative Strategies and Scenarios. These were brought to a focus in the preparation of the 2nd edition of the Encyclopedia from 1984 to 1986, notably in the light of the community development initiatives of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (see below) to which the UIA contracted some editorial work based on ICA documentation.

For the 1986 edition, the aim was to establish a modest database using information from:

  • the UIA files for individual organizations in the Yearbook of International Organizations
  • selected international organizations on the basis of special mailings
  • ICA materials, notably those derived from community development consultations around the world.
The whole exercise was viewed as experimental, setting the stage for further work to refine the entries in the light of more information from international organizations. Resources did not permit this during the preparation of the 3rd edition of the Encyclopedia (1989-1991).

When work was started on the 4th edition, it was not planned to undertake any work on strategies. But late in the editorial cycle to produce the first two volumes for 1994, it was decided in discussion with the publisher to extend the work of the editorial team to focus on strategies using the 1986 as a base. The aim was to produce this third volume in 1995.

2. Other initiatives

Clearly there would be little purpose in producing a volume on strategies if such information was systematically available from other sources. In practice information on "strategies" or "solutions" tends to be widely scattered and takes a wide variety of forms (see Note 3.4).

The sources covering a multiplicity of "strategies" tended to be the specialized agencies of the intergovernmental system, usually in the form of their periodical report on envisaged or agreed programmes. Related to these were the reports in preparation for major conferences or arising from them. Most striking was Agenda 21, namely the conclusions of the United Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED, 1992). Especially valuable was the Summary of Agenda 21 prepared by Bob Munro (Sustainable Development Policy and Planning, Nairobi) that isolated 2,710 individual strategies from the forty programme areas of Agenda 21. He is a member of the UIA.

In the case of alternative strategies, the Book of Visions: an encyclopedia of social innovations prepared by the Institute ofSocial Inventions (London, Virgin Books, 1992) was most useful. We are grateful to Nicholas Albery, the director and the book's editor, for permission to summarize some of the proposals contained in that volume and related publications of the Institute. Similar cooperation was accorded by the current board of the Norwegian project "Idébanken i Praksis" in respect of their publication Alternativer i Praksis: practical alternatives by Scandinavian NGO's (Nakkerud, M et al (ed), Oslo, 1990). The project represents several years' accumulation of alternative projects and ideas in a database held by that organization, but which is currently dormant.

The existence of a number of other initiatives emerged in the research phase, but did not result in any input to this work:

  • Catalogue of Hope, a database of initiatives, currently dormant, held by the International Futures Library, Salzburg (Austria) in cooperation with the Clearing House for Applied Futures at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Germany);
  • the Global Cooperation Bank, a collection of creative ideas, visions and actions for a better world collected between 1988 and 1989 by the organization Global Cooperation for a Better World coordinated by the Brahma Kumaris; and
  • and the database of the organization Renew America (Washington D.C.), a clearinghouse for environmental solutions, the best of which are published annually under the name Environmental Success Index and may receive a National Award for Environmental Sustainability.
It also did not prove possible to make use of the excellent series which used to be produced from 1964 to 1988 by FAO Ideas and Action. Nor was any use made of the excellent Bulletin of Peace Proposals (International Peace Research Institute, Oslo).

3. UIA-ICA collaboration

With its international headquarters in Brussels, the relationship between UIA and ICA has taken a number of forms over the years since the initial contact in 1984. It has involved consultation on mutual interests, installation of the UIA computer system under contract to an ICA specialized affiliate (1984-1986), UIA involvement in ICA gatherings, ICA facilitation of UIA research (including donation of copies of numerous ICA documents in 1984), sub-contracting of UIA editorial work to ICA on topics in which ICA had expertise (for the 1986 edition). Especially following the change of operating basis of ICA in 1988-90, UIA has also sub-contracted editorial work to former ICA members, notably major editorial responsibility for the 1991 edition of the Encyclopedia undertaken by Jon and Maureen Jenkins.

As described elsewhere (Notes 3.4 and 3.5; see also Note 9), editorial efforts have been made for this 4th edition to make further use of ICA materials.

4. Resources and funding

This project has not received funding from any public institution. It has been made possible through allocation of funds by the UIA and the publisher Dr Klaus Saur, supplemented by James Wellesley-Wesley, the initial funder of the Encyclopedia. Given the time available, the project would not have reached this stage without help from volunteers and information supplied free of charge and/or copyright by international organizations.

5. Special acknowledgement

This Encyclopedia as a whole, and this volume in particular, owes a great deal to Robert Jungk who died in 1994. He was a key figure in Mankind 2000, which funded the first edition of the Encyclopedia, and so enthusiastically valued its presence in his International Futures Library, Salzburg. It was he who always stressed the need for a volume on "solutions". The editors regret that he is unable to see the result of his dedication to this vision.

Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA)

Any review of international strategies, especially those relating to local communities, should be considered incomplete in the absence of any reference to the early work of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA). The work on systematic clarification of strategies that is of concern here occurred during the 1970s. It is described in some detail elsewhere in this volume (see Note 9).

In 1974 the ICA described itself as "an intra-global research, training and demonstration group concerned with the human factor in world development. Towards this end it is engaged in planning and actuating local community development projects in various parts of the world. The ICA is a not-for-profit tax-exempt corporation registered in the state of Illinois. The Institute has headquarters in Brussels, Bombay, Chicago, Singapore, Hong Kong and Nairobi. In addition there are ICA offices in more than one hundred major cities serving twenty-three nations. The Institute's programs around the world are supported by grants, gifts and contributions from government departments and agencies on the federal state and municipal levels and from private foundations, corporations, trusts, and concerned individuals."

The ICA was founded in 1973 in Chicago as a result of the work of the related Ecumenical Institute (founded Chicago, 1964). During that period many individuals working through the ICA were also grouped together into a lay religious order entitled the Order: Ecumenical which provided self-supporting volunteers to assist the activities of member national institutes. The individuals involved in this "tripartite" extended residential community were unique in their professional skills (ranging from academic, business, computer, technical to human relations skills). The complete range of these skills was brought to bear on the articulation of a rich set of strategies unique in their functional complementarity. For the most part this information is only available in the form of internal documents.

Research phase

Through a series of summer institutes, consultations and research assemblies, over a thousand people operating in different locations around the world engaged in a quite unique process (especially in terms of what might be termed "conceptual logistics") resulting in the identification of a comprehensive range of strategies and processes relevant to development, and especially to the development of local communities. This process was supported by a wide-ranging structured reading/reporting project that covered some 1,500 source texts in the economic, social, political, cultural and religious fields.

During this process, extending over several years, the social dynamics of the economic, political and cultural arenas were analyzed and inter-related. As a result of this research, 385 proposals for social renewal were formulated. The intents of these proposals were found to be mutually related and, when plotted in their specific arenas of concern were seen to be grouped together into 96 separate social processes or clusters.

In attempting to build a strategy to catalyze the social renewal outlined in the 96 clusters, each of the proposal clusters was analyzed in terms of the beneficial effects it would have on the other clusters. In this method, it was determined that the clusters themselves were mutually related as to their potential catalytic effect and, therefore, were intrinsically grouped into 40 "cluster complexes".

Implicit in each of these complexes were major and minor catalytic thrusts, in effect representing all of the 385 original proposals. For each of 40 clusters, a system of tactical actions was developed which would have a catalytic effect in balancing the economic, political, and cultural contradictions in society. One document contains the results of this work in the form of a statements of intent and clarifying statements.

Community development phase

Subsequent to this lengthy and complex research phase, the group then oriented itself to facilitate community development, in both depressed urban and rural communities in developed and developing countries. One method employed in this process was community consultations whereby the community was assisted, in a village or town-meeting dialogue mode, in the identification of both the problems of the community and the strategic responses which the consultation evoked.

Some 50 such consultations were held in 26 countries, each giving rise to a report and a local change development process. A great advantage of this material for comparative research is that the reports all follow the same pattern of presentation (operating vision, underlying contradictions, tactical systems, actuating programmes).

One of the great merits of this material for work on this Encyclopedia was that many of the strategies had already been presented in succinct form as strategies. More specific strategies had been specifically named as such and cross-referenced to the broader strategy. Another major merit of this material was the deliberate attempt to cover problems and strategies in every domain, whether economic, resources, employment, health, education or culture.

Rural development approaches

In 1984 an International Exposition of Rural Development was organized by ICA in New Delhi with the co-sponsorship of a number of UN specialized agencies. In relation to this initiative an extensive database was developed by ICA on the insights and experiences of practitioners of rural development and local community self-renewal. The database covered over 1,000 projects and was published by ICA as part of a 3-volume series (see bibliography). Having the same publisher, it was loosely associated with the 1986 edition of the Encyclopedia for marketing purposes.

From Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential

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