Language at the heart of sustainable development discussions in global meeting
The 12th International Language and Development Conference took place from 27-29 November 2017 at the King Fahd Palace Hotel in Dakar. This marked the third time the event was held in Africa and the first time it took place in a Francophone or West Africa country. The conference brought together over 250 participants including international policy makers, development professionals, members of the NGO and private sectors, arts and creative sector representatives, researchers, and all those with a perspective on the role of language in society. The Language and Development Conference was hosted in association with seven strategic partners, including Senegal’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation; their Ministry of National Education; CODESRIA; the International Organisation of La Francophonie; SIL International; SOAS University London; and UNESCO.
The conference’s theme ‘Language and the Sustainable Development Goals’ dealt with the inextricable link between language and social, economic, and judicial development. Taking from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, the conference was both timely and much-needed. The event offered the opportunity to explore the role of language in supporting, not hindering, sustainable development initiatives through three of the SDG sub-themes: Multilingualism for Quality, Equitable, and Inclusive Education; Language, Skills, and Sustainable Economic Growth; and Communication, Peace, and Justice. Presentations focussed on issues related to inclusive language policy and practice within education, trade, creative expression, justice, and peacebuilding.
“Language has always been a prominent part of British Council’s work across the world. And while our direct interest has been in the English language, we are very conscious of the need to set English in a much wider linguistic context. We promote English as a language in addition to, not instead of, other languages spoken by individuals.” – Dawn Long, British Council Senegal Country Director
A diverse range of keynote speakers included four of African origin: Ahmeth Diouf from Senegal, Mary Goretti Nakabugo from Uganda, Paulin Djite from Cote d’Ivoire, and Salikoko Mufwene from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other keynotes included Barbara Trudell from SIL International and Leigh Swigart, from the University of Brandeis.