The protection and promotion of linguistic diversity addressed by UNESCO
Following the International Conference “Role of linguistic diversity in building a global community with shared future: protection, access and promotion of language resources”, organized in Changsha, China, in September 2018, the participants - representing governments, national language harmonization institutions, academia, public and private sector, and speakers of minority and indigenous languages – announced the adoption of the “Yuelu Proclamation”.
The final document states that the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity is crucial to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the Human Development goals, since linguistic diversity is ultimately about people’s equal opportunities to access quality education and other basic public services, employment, health, social inclusion and participation in society.
Furthermore, the participants in this major International Conference stressed the importance of proactive, accountable and measurable participation of all sectors of the international community. Recommendations include the need for UNESCO and other United Nations agencies to mobilize additional resources in order to assume fully their important responsibility for advocacy, guidance, promotion and protection of linguistic diversity worldwide. Member States are also encouraged to formulate coherent language policies and to design language resource management and implementation mechanisms. National language harmonization institutions, academia, non-governmental organizations, public and private organizations should also be involved in the promotion of linguistic diversity through scientific research, media, curricula, arts, cultural production, and ICTs.
Finally, an important aspect duly stressed in the Yuelu Proclamation is the necessity to combine the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity with the development of science and technology – from the role of ICTs and Artificial Intelligence in stimulating the creative transformation and innovative development and dissemination of content, to the development of advanced tools for the collection and analysis of language data, that would contribute to the “World Atlas of Languages” of UNESCO.