The languages of the world and the cultures associated with them serve as one of the cornerstones of mankind’s cultural heritage. Language is the means by which people develop both cultural unity and personal identity. Linguistic versatility and an understanding of different cultures are the most important tools for bringing people together at national and international levels.
Global cooperation between different cultural and linguistic areas has never been as important to us as it is today, especially in education, technology, trade, politics, aid and development. In a world of growing contacts in so many fields, language skills are becoming increasingly vital.
Many of the serious problems facing the international community, such as global warming, the increasing gap between rich and poor and gender inequality, can only be solved through international cooperation, which of necessity demands linguistic diversity and cultural literacy.
As academics and leading figures in the international arena have warned, not only have many of the world’s languages already disappeared but an increasing number are under threat of extinction. There are numerous reasons for this, such as economic and political developments across the globe, demographic changes, and the undeniable fact that a few select languages now have dominant international status.
Such a development poses a grave threat to linguistic diversity across the globe.
In order to counteract this development, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages is working towards establishing a World Language Centre. The primary purpose of the Centre is to raise awareness of the importance of languages as one of mankind’s most precious cultural assets.
The World Language Centre will be an information centre for languages and culture with excellent facilities for research, language learning and dissemination. In cooperation with other institutes, international scholars and those interested in languages, such a centre would be a significant contribution towards preserving and strengthening linguistic diversity.
The World Language Centre regards it an honour to develop and continue the pioneering work that Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former president of Iceland, has carried out as the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages.
A UNESCO Category 2 Centre
On 15 April 2013, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, signed a cooperation agreement between the Icelandic Government and UNESCO stipulating that the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding operate under the auspices of UNESCO. On 27 June same year, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, signed the agreement in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Rules and Procedures of the Vigdís International Centre
The Rules and Procedures for the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding were formally agreed upon by The Centre for Research in the Humanities at the University of Iceland on 27 November 2012.
The Board of the Vigdís International Centre
The International Advisory Board
The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute enjoys the consulting of international experts who provide advice preparing and developping the activities of the Vigdís International Centre of Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding. The meetings are funded with support from the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.