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by Christine Platt, CEO Australia
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tells us that languages play a crucial role in our daily lives. They are not only our first medium for communication, education and social integration, but are also at the heart of each person's unique identity, cultural history and memory. The ongoing loss of indigenous languages is particularly devastating, as the complex knowledge and cultures they foster are increasingly being recognised as strategic resources for good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development. More importantly, such losses have huge negative impacts upon indigenous peoples' most basic human rights.
An International Year is an important mechanism dedicated to raising awareness of a topic of global interest and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world. 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL). There is concern that 40 per cent of the world's estimated 6,700 languages are in danger of disappearing- the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.
The IYIL 2019 will strive to preserve, support and promote indigenous languages at national, regional and international levels.