The World Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development held in Khanty-Mansiysk under the aegis of UNESCO

 

Participants of the Global expert meeting

On June 5–9 2017 Khanty-Mansiysk successfully hosted the World Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development within the framework of the IX International IT Forum featuring BRICS and SCO countries and within the UNESCO Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP).

The meeting has become a first-ever global forum to consider the importance, role and functions of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the digital environment for inclusive sustainable development.

The event gathered almost 100 representatives of intergovernmental, international, regional and national nongovernment organizations, universities, research centres, state ruling bodies as well as cultural, educational, research, information and communication agencies from 35 countries  (Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Ghana, Georgia, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, UK, USA, Zambia).

Russia was represented by 40 experts from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and the Sakhalin Region.

Holding the meeting has become a significant contribution by Ugra and the Russian Federation to the implementation of the IFAP, UNESCO’s major intergovernmental programme in the field of communication and information, and also a new contribution to UNESCO’s efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formulated in the universal UN document Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The World Expert Meeting was organized by:

The organizers set the following key goals:

  • To study the role, functions and importance of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the digital environment for inclusive sustainable development;
  • To explore how theoretical approaches, goals and targets of sustainable development correlate with the preservation of linguistic and cultural diversity and the development of multilingualism in cyberspace;
  • To facilitate the preservation of languages, including endangered languages of small indigenous peoples;
  • To develop and promote the outcomes of international forums on multilingualism in cyberspace, initiated and organized within the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme;
  • To develop and advance UNESCO’s and Russian policy in the field of language preservation and linguistic and cultural diversity development in cyberspace;
  • To set information exchanges between Russian and foreign experts on the promotion of multilingualism in cyberspace and on inclusive sustainable development issues;
  • To identify and disseminate innovative theories and best practices in the field of language preservation and multilingualism development in cyberspace.

Financial support was provided by the Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra, the LUKOIL Company, UNESCO/IFAP, and UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.

Greetings to the conference organizers and participants were received from: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Gennady Gatilov, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO Alexander Kuznetsov, UNESCO IITE Director Tao Zhan. Veniamin Kaganov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, addressed the conference participants in his video greeting.

Chief of UNESCO’s Universal Access and Preservation Section Boyan Radoykov in his speech at the Opening Gala of the IX International IT Forum highlighted the role of linguistic and cultural diversity in building pluralistic, equitable, open and inclusive knowledge societies. Over the last 15 years, UNESCO consistently and strongly encourages its Member States and its partners from the civil society, academia and the private sector to contribute to the formulation of comprehensive language-related policies, allocate the necessary resources and to develop and use appropriate tools in order to promote and facilitate linguistic diversity and multilingualism, including on the Internet. This is why the Global Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development is a substantial contribution to the overall endeavor to shape appropriate solutions to some of the most challenging questions facing mankind today.

Mr Radoykov also paid tribute to the unparalleled possibilities provided by ICTs for improving livelihoods and well-being of peoples and societies. “In this sense, the empowerment of women and men depends on strengthening their capacity to transform information into knowledge, he said. He added that having this personal capability, this personal sovereignty is becoming the fundamental criteria for all citizens’ active, competent and productive participation in society. This is the reason why we should not, we cannot invest just in technology – we must invest in ecosystems, including in public policies, fostering quality education and giving people the ability to own their destinies, to make competent social choices, to face the reality with no groundless fears.

Another expert meeting’s participant to speak at the IT Forum Opening Gala was Gilvan Oliveira, professor from Brazil, founder of the IPOL (Institute for Research and Development in Language Policy – Brazil), Executive Secretary of the MAAYA World Network for Linguistic Diversity. He proclaimed:

“As a Brazilian, I would like to highlight the opportunity for the BRICS countries to cross-promote our languages: Russian, Chinese, English and Portuguese, languages that approach more than 3 billion people and are official in more than 70 countries. Our five countries concentrate more than 1,900 of the world’s nearly 7,500 languages. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries further amplify these numbers and these opportunities. ICTs have enabled us to refine our perception that languages are resources for the development of our peoples, and more than that, that they are truly factors of production in the new digital economy. The value of languages can be measured in a new econometrics, which observes the dynamics of language markets. It is one of the tasks of our Expert Meeting these days to develop new approaches to understanding languages as factors of integral social development and, in this sense, to update the meaning of one of the most important UNESCO documents on the subject, the 2003 Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace.”

The World Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development has become one of the central events of the IX International IT Forum. It was opened by Alexei Shipilov, Ugra Deputy Governor, and Evgeny Kuzmin, Vice-Chair of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, Chair of the IFAP Working Group on Multilingualism in Cyberspace, Chair of the Russian IFAP Committee, President of the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre.

Alexei Shipilov pointed that preserving and developing languages is an important state-level task and a priority of the policy pursued in Ugra, which is home to representatives of 124 nationalities, considering the opportunity to speak their native language as an important criterion of the quality of life. Indigenous small-numbered peoples, original inhabitants of the area who gave it its name, are paid particular attention here. Linguistic and cultural traditions, the heritage of the Khanty and Mansi peoples are the starting point for the self-identification of the region, as Ugra Governor Natalia Komarova always emphasizes:

“A most effective approach within the education system is studying native languages from an early age,” said Mr Shipilov. For today 70% of indigenous children of the North receive appropriate preschool education. 30% of Khanty and Mansi schoolchildren learn their native language and the centuries-old history of the region.”

Alexei Drenin, Acting Director of the Ugra Department of Education and Youth Policy, gave a detailed picture of the implementation of the state policy to preserve and develop Ob-Ugric languages and cultures in Ugra, noting that the region is ready to share its successful practices and is keen to adopt the experience of distinguished international experts. He expressed hope that joint efforts will help determine methods and solutions to save the languages of many peoples of the world from extinction and preserve their historical, cultural and social experience.

Evgeny Kuzmin, in his report “On the Way to Create a Noble and Beautiful International Language Policy”, said in particular:

“Every language is a unique instrument for the understanding and description of reality, a fabulously rich store of information about the ethnic entity speaking it, and about ethnic culture, its own evolution, and the nature of man as a biological species. Languages are amazingly rich and diverse products of human creative reason. They are precious to their speakers. Languages reflect nations’ historical and social experience. They are instruments of individual socialization and means of self-identification. Cyberspace provides vast opportunities for access to information and communication, implementation of the freedom of expression, access to education and dissemination of cultures. These opportunities, however, are implemented only through competent and conscientiously use of the power of the Internet and other IСTs for the sublime goal of preserving and promoting diversity.Therefore, the development of linguistic diversity on the Internet has not only cultural, but also political and economic importance. In preparing for 2019, proclaimed by the UN the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we must offer the world a framework for a noble language policy, through which people could realize their potential in the languages they consider necessary so that their human dignity is not impaired at the same time, that languages are not used in goals of domination and repression”.

The meeting’s professional programme included a total of 53 reports. Plenary sessions were moderated by Evgeny Kuzmin, Alexei Drenin, Yury Chyorny and Lyudmila Trubina (Russia), Boyan Radoykov and Tatiana Murovana (UNESCO), Gilvan Oliveira (Brazil), Alfredo Ronchi (Italy), Anuradha Kanniganti (India), Andrew Whitworth (United Kingdom), Tjeerd de Graaf (Netherlands), Daniel Pimienta (Dominican Republic), Dorothy Gordon (Ghana), Coetzee Bester (South Africa), Maryam Nazari (Iran), Ramon Tuazon (Philippines).

Evgeny Kuzmin also spoke at the IX International IT Forum’s closing plenary and presented the outcomes of the World Expert Meeting to all Forum’s participants.

The Expert Meeting’s participants received a set of information and analytical materials in Russian and English on the issues of linguistic and cultural diversity in cyberspace and other humanitarian issues of information society. These publications by the Russian IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre formed the basis of a book exhibition opened during the meeting.

Cultural and introductory programme included visits to the Ob-Ugric Institute of Applied Research and Development, Torum Maa Outdoor Ethnographic Museum, Art Gallery, Museum of Nature and Man, and a classical music concert in the Organ Room of the Ugra Classic Theatre and Concert Hall.

At the meeting’s closing plenary the participants also discussed the draft final document – the Ugra Declaration on the Preservation of Languages and the Promotion of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development. An international working group was formed to accomplish the document’s elaboration, including Evgeny Kuzmin and Yury Chyorny (Russia), Tatiana Murovana (UNESCO), Gilvan Oliveira (Brazil), Anuradha Kanniganti (India), Andrew Whitworth (United Kingdom), Dorothy Gordon (Ghana), Coetzee Bester (South Africa), Ramon Tuazon (Philippines), Vassili Rivron (France), Nestor Ruiz Vasquez (Colombia). The reports presented at the meeting and the final document will appear at the Russian IFAP Committee’s website later.

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An impressive list of participants to the meeting and their feedback indicated the world’s growing interest to the problems raised within the framework of the UNESCO IFAP and to the initiatives of Ugra and the whole Russia in the field of information and communication.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNESCO expressed sincere gratitude to the Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra and the Russian IFAP Committee for their invaluable contribution to the preservation of linguistic diversity, as well as the study of media and information literacy not only in our country, but also worldwide.

The World Expert Meeting “Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development” is the fourth major forum on humanitarian issues of the information society organized by the Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra in cooperation with the Russian IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Center Cooperation. It follows up:

The International Conference on Media and Information Literacy for Building Culture of Open Government (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 7–10 June 2016),

The Ugra Global Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 4–9 July 2015),

The International Expert Meeting on Improving Access to Multilingual Cyberspace (UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, 28–29 October 2014).

The Russian IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre have previously held five international language-related forums:

This work has provided a unique opportunity to develop first-ever international documents suggesting ways to implement a number of recommendations of the World Summit on the Information Society, announcing initiatives to provide universal access to information and knowledge, formulating the principles to form the basis for international policies in this area:

Opening of the Global expert meeting. Performance by the Solntse (the Sun) Theatre of Ob-Ugric Peoples. Fonte: Ifap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenary session of the Global expert meeting (opening). Fonte: Ifap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fonte: Ifap

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