Expert Meeting on the World Atlas of Languages held at UNESCO

29 June 2017

In order to facilitate the development of a questionnaire-style Global Survey Instrument to collect data for the World Atlas of Languages, UNESCO, in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is organizing an Expert Meeting at its Headquarters in Paris, France, from 28 to 30 June 2017.

The meeting includes in-depth discussion on the definition of the purpose and objectives of the survey, how to increase its validity as well as on the format of each question. It covers four main themes: basic information on the language (spoken or signed), its state, information on language users and language use.

At the Consultative Expert meeting on sign languages, held on 21 February 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters, it was agreed that in order to promote the mainstreaming of sign languages, they would be included in the same questionnaire as spoken languages; as a result, they will be discussed alongside spoken languages at this Expert Meeting.

It is expected that a consensus regarding the content and format of the questionnaire will be achieved at this meeting, that will also provide an opportunity for discussion on the “language window” aspect of the Atlas.

The long-term objective of the Atlas is to contribute to the safeguarding of the world’s diverse linguistic and cultural heritage through a global interactive, collaborative and open online platform for preservation, monitoring, promotion, and information and knowledge sharing, as well as learning and teaching of languages, with a special focus on use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for the creation of inclusive multilingual cyberspace and knowledge societies.

This event contributes to UNESCO’s effort to consolidate knowledge societies, which are open, pluralistic, equitable, and participatory. Promotion of linguistic diversity and multilingualism is one of the key pillars for enhanced international cooperation, effective support of innovation and creativity and sustainable empowerment of citizens.