World Day for Cultural Diversity 2013

On this Day, UNESCO emphasizes the need to fight against imbalances that exist between global exchanges of cultural goods, and stresses the importance of preserving the world’s most vulnerable cultures, together with the need for cultural policies and structural measures in developing countries…The value of cultural diversity in languages is also stressed.

(May 2013) Since 2002, 21 May has been designated by UNESCO as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The annual celebration honors the diverse cultures of the world and highlights the need for policies that promote cultural preservation and equality between people. SIL joins in celebrating the world’s cultures and the languages in which they are expressed.

Dave Pearson, SIL's Permanent Representative to UNESCO, says:

There is a lot of pressure in today’s digital age to consume the same products, sing the same songs, wear the same clothes and speak the same language. Celebrating the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a welcome reminder of the value of diversity. The day was inspired by UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001.The declaration has been a valuable resource for a vast range of peoples and cultures in the face of globalization. We should celebrate our differences and learn from one another in a spirit of cultural pluralism. The “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion” campaign is a challenge to us all to embrace differences and rejoice in diversity. I am so grateful that each of us has been created unique.

In February SIL launched the 17th edition of the Ethnologue, our database of the world’s linguistic diversity. It lists 7,105 languages that we know are spoken today. Each of these languages is a valuable repository of knowledge, and each represents a unique way of viewing the world. But not all languages are equally valued. Some people groups have become persuaded that the interests of their children are best served by no longer speaking to them in the language of the community. As time goes by, such languages are increasingly in danger of being spoken no more. For the first time the Ethnologue estimates the level of vitality of each language, and the analysis of these language vitality levels makes for sobering reading.

SIL recognizes the importance of language development in supporting ethnolinguistic communities’ efforts to achieve their goals for sustainable development. As an international nongovernmental organization, SIL has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and formal consultative relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). SIL is a founding member of Maaya, the World Network for Linguistic Diversity.

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