Former President of Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir attended the signing of an agreement in Paris on Thursday last week confirming that the University of Iceland based Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages will be embodied by UNESCO.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Photo: Geir Ólafsson/Iceland Review.
“It is of significant value for the institute but of no less value for us Icelanders as a nation,” Vigdís commented to ruv.is. Vigdís is UNESCO’s first goodwill ambassador for languages.
She pointed out that around the world, languages are becoming extinct. If they disappear, so will important knowledge. “Such as knowledge of the land and environment. And memories will disappear. The language is a treasure chest for memories.”
UNESCO announced in November 2011 its decision to embody the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Language Institute.
The institute was certified by UNESCO in May this year, at which point Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who was minister of education and culture at the time, signed the agreement on behalf of the Icelandic government, as reported on the University of Iceland’s website.
The institute is the first international language centre to be certified by UNESCO. Its role is to enhance further its international role in encouraging multilingualism and understanding of difference in cultures between nations and the preservation of languages.
An emphasis will be placed on translations and their function for the Icelandic culture and language. In addition to facilities for teaching, research and studies, an experience centre will be founded where everyone can learn about different languages and cultures.
The institute will be located in a new building on the University of Iceland campus in Reykjavík. Constructions are scheduled to commence later this year.