21 February 2014 – International Mother Language Day celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity alongside multilingualism as a force for peace and sustainable development.
As we work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals while mapping out a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, this diversity can encourage dialogue, mutual understanding, innovation and creativity. This in turn can help us build more just and inclusive societies. As the late President Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.
The theme of this year’s observance spotlights the vital role of local languages in advancing science. This will help ensure that the latest scientific knowledge is more widely shared. At the same time, it will help deepen and enrich our global knowledge base with more traditional but often overlooked scientific wisdom.
Let us all join forces to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism as a key element in our efforts to build a better world and a life of dignity for all.