Iceland's Participation in IDIL 2022–2032


Iceland's Participation in IDIL 2022–2032

On behalf of Iceland, The Vigdís Centre has members in the Steering Committee and ad hoc groups in preparation for the decade on behalf of Iceland. Currently, the Centre is also developing its activities within the framework of IDIL 2022–2032 in small (i.e. with very limited linguistic environments) and minority languages.

Former President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, has served as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages since 1998. She is the first and only spokesman for languages at a global level. The role of the Goodwill Ambassador is to draw people’s attention to the importance of languages for cultural diversity and to provide support for languages that are under threat of extinction.

Throughout her career, Vigdís has always emphasized the importance of languages and language learning. She was a well-known French teacher in Iceland and a pioneer in language teaching on Icelandic television. On many occasions Vigdís has emphasized the importance of translations for the Icelandic language and culture, and contributed to the archives of such literature with her own translations of well-known French theatrical works.

Translations are one of the key elements for the survival of cultural heritages, cultural diversity, and multicultural communication, as well as the invigoration of languages in danger of extinction. Active translation work can be crucial for the promotion of minority languages and those in small linguistic environments.

Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, as Iceland´s representative, is a member of the Global task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages. The Global Task Force has been one of the bodies contributing to shaping IDIL2022-2032 and will further ensure that the principles of inclusion, openness, participation and multi-stakeholder engagement would be ensured and applied throughout the International Decade. As an international governance mechanism, the Global Task Force is established to ensure the equitable participation of all stakeholders in the International Decade, and to provide guidance on the preparation, planning, implementation and monitoring of activities, in line with the objectives of the Global Action Plan of the IDIL2022-2032.

On the occasion of the Global Launch of IDIL 2022-2032 in December 2022, Guðni Th. Jóhannessonar, President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languagues and President of Iceland 1980–1996, Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland and Sæunn Stefánsdóttir, Chair of the Icelandic National Commission for UNESCO, all expressed their support for IDIL 2022–2032 in a video message.

The Centre's Strategy during IDIL 2022–2032

The Vigdís International Centre´s team and network of collaborators will establish a platform, uniting series of events and initiatives organised in Iceland or internationally, under the overarching theme of Cultural Production and Language Futures.

The aim of VIC, within the framework of IDIL, is to promote the strengthening of minority languages in various ways. During IDIL 2022–2032, VIC will:

Focus on projects related to small linguistic environments and minority languages, with special attention to multilingualism, literacy, and education, as well their literature and cultures;

Discuss the importance of translations for small linguistic and minority language environments;

Create a forum for discussions on the impact of language contact on small linguistic environments and minority languages, and to review language policies to promote the viability of such languages;

Take part in creating opportunities for postgraduate studies at the University of Iceland related to minority- and small language environments;

Promote and share information on IDIL 2022–2032, and its projects, activities and results in Iceland and among collaborators.

There are three main thematic areas in which we will be focusing our involvement: 

Workshops for writers and poets of the West Nordic region

The objective is to strengthen co-operation and create a platform for writers and poets in the West Nordic region who write in small, indigenous and minority languages for discussions about language relations, cultural heritage and translations.

Three workshops will be held in Veröld – House of Vigdís for poets and writers of the West Nordic area who write in small, indigenous and minority languages. Themes for the workshops will be:

  • Languages and memories;
  • Attitudes towards translations;
  • Cultural heritage and language relations.

The workshops will be held in collaboration with the Nordic House in Reykjavík and the Nordic Network on the West Nordic Region which has been operating since 2015 and was initiated by the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages.

Promoting Romani literary heritage

With a variety of projects within the collaboration network Roma in the Centre, The Vigdís Centre has in recent years become one of the few research institutions in the world that work systematically to promote the literary heritage of the Roma, by organizing a workshop and conference on Roma literature and most recently publishing short stories. The cooperation network also includes various projects, in the field of education of Roma girls in Eastern Europe and cultural festivals of Roma people.

In the framework of IDIL 20222032 we will contribute to various events and initiatives promoting Romani literary heritage on a global level and to raisting awareness about the Romani history and community in the Icelandic society. Cooperation with other UNESCO organizations will be sought in the project.

Further information here.

Seminars and workshops for translators of small and minority languages

The objective is to disseminate Iceland's long experience in the field of translation and to promote increased cooperation between scholars and professionals in the field of translating small and minority languages as a key factor in the promotion and protection of those languages.

Five two-day translators' seminars and workshops will be organized annually for translators of small and minority languages. The project is based on the Vigdís Centre‘s experience of organising such translators’ seminars and workshops in Iceland, Japan and Paris in recent years.

Possible topics for the seminars and workshops:

  • Attitudes towards translation among small and minority languages;
  • Translation environment and technology among small and minority languages;
  • Greenlandic translations;
  • Sami translations;
  • Romani translations.