“Leave no one behind”
Linguistic and digital barriers to the dissemination and implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals
In September 2015 the United Nations (UN) adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offering an internationally agreed blueprint for economic, environmental and social development. However those most in need and specifically targeted by the SDGs face significant barriers in accessing information and knowledge about the goals and sustainability in a language or medium that can be understood. Drawing on previous research on the UN’s language policy and practice (McEntee-Atalianis, 2006, 2015, 2016) and analyses of recent UN reports and resolutions on multilingualism, information policy and practice and the SDGs, this article examines the current status of multilingualism and information transfer within the Organisation. Significant linguistic and digital barriers are identified. It is argued that the UN must plan in more linguistically plural and inclusive ways by developing a tri-sectoral communication network strategy involving civil society, public and private sectors in order to facilitate knowledge transfer and participation, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind.
Keywords: information technology, language policy, multilingualism, sustainable development goals, United Nations