Best practices and lessons learned to preserve

The Organization served as the lead UN Agency for the International Year as an important international cooperation mechanism to raise awareness about the critical situation of many indigenous languages and to mobilize stakeholders and resources for coordinated action to preserve, revitalize and promote these languages around the world.

The IYIL2019 Flagship Report presents key activities as good practices implemented by a wide range of partners working at the local, national, regional and international levels to promote indigenous languages worldwide. A set of key activities are presented as per the adopted Action Plan for the International Year, including major objectives, areas of intervention, thematic areas, stakeholders involved, geographical scope, and categories of events.

Some of the key results of the International Year are:

  • 78 countries actively contributed to the implementation of activities and mobilization of resources.
  • Nearly 900 events and initiatives were launched around the world.
  • Over 2,466 stakeholders joined the online community of practice of the IYIL2019 website
  • Global media organizations systematically reported on indigenous languages, with at least 4000 articles published only the six UN languages
  • A new understanding was fostered of languages as essential contributors to the development of peaceful, resilient and inclusive societies
  • A global community was mobilized through a social media campaign and played an essential role in raising awareness of the importance of indigenous languages
  • New levels of cooperation emerged among existing human rights mechanisms such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and the Human Rights Council
  • The year-long campaign resulted into the long-term measure and global effort of the International Decade of Indigenous Language 2022-2032.

Selected activities will serve as inspiring stories and good practices for future actions in the years to come, particularly during the upcoming International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032, for which UNESCO will continue to lead global efforts.

The selection of flagship initiatives was compiled by the UNESCO team following review of the nearly 1000 events and initiatives registered on the global events calendar of the IYIL2019 website and information received from other stakeholders and partners about their implemented initiatives and projects. The website therefore functioned as a clearinghouse of information and a benchmarking system to track achievement of the objectives for the International Year and is currently being upgraded to host the dedicated website of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL2022-2032).

A major lesson of the International Year is that while societies as a whole have a key role to play for the preservation, revitalization and promotion of indigenous languages, indigenous leadership is essential to ensure the development and implementation of effective and sustainable plans, policies and actions. The key principle of ensuring the “centrality of indigenous peoples” in decision-making processes will continue to guide actions in framework of the International Decade, based on the following key message:

Indigenous languages matter for sustainable development, good governance, reconciliation and peace building in our societies.

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