The International Expert Meeting on Improving Access to Multilingual Cyberspace came to a successful close on the evening of 29 October 2014 following two days of intensive and productive deliberations by some 50 global experts representing 26 countries.
This major event, held at UNESCO’s Paris-based Headquarters, was organized by UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division and the Information for All Programme (IFAP), in cooperation with the Government of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug-Ugra (Russian Federation), the Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (Russian Federation) and the Russian Committee of the Information for All Programme.
A selection of national and regional successes and lessons from governmental, academic, public-private partnerships and civil society settings provided a rich body of relevant policies and practices that informed the discussions. “By drawing inspiration from these case studies, generalizing and adapting them, we were able to identify critical success elements and benefit from useful insights that assisted us in gaining clarity on the way forward and subsequently formulating the meeting’s recommendations and action plan”, said Ms Chafica Haddad, Chair of the Intergovernmental IFAP Council.
In particular, the endorsed action plan and recommendations will:
- support national policy development and the adoption of strategies for promoting language survival in cyberspace, language learning and universal access to cyberspace;
- promote the development and dissemination of technological solutions, best practices and standards that facilitate access to multilingual content, including automatic translation and intelligent linguistic systems; and
- strengthening multi-stakeholder international cooperation and partnerships to support capacity building and access to resources.
The experts elaborated on concrete proposals for upscaling the existing Atlas of Languages in Danger towards a UNESCO World Atlas of Languages. It is expected that a new online platform will be used for monitoring and promoting most worlds’ languages as well as for providing an online space for relevant language institutions of UNESCO’s Member States to share their e-content on languages using open and inclusive technological solutions.
At the closing session, the representative of the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Boyan Radoykov, expressed full satisfaction with the outcomes of the meeting and underscored: “This extremely rich and productive meeting of experts highlighted the critical role of linguistic diversity and the importance of its advancement in cyberspace for ensuring universal access to information and for supporting the creation of equitable and inclusive knowledge societies, which are the key to our common sustainable future.”
Other post-conference plans discussed during the meeting included the proposed organization of a World Summit on Multilingualism.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.