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ICTs for Intercultural Dialogue - A UNESCO Project for Indigenous People

16-02-2004 (Paris)
Preserving indigenous peoples’ cultural resources by fostering access to ICT, thus contributing to narrowing the digital divide – this is the aim of new project entitled "ICTs for Intercultural Dialogue. Developing communication capacities of indigenous peoples (ICT4ID)" that UNESCO has recently launched.
Involving ten indigenous communities - the Naga and the Mentowai in the Asia Pacific region, the Pygmies and the Himbas in Africa and the Quechua, Aymara, Kikanantay, Rapa Nui and Mapuche in Latin America - the project aims at fostering the use of ICTs to contribute to revitalizing their identity and at recovering their cultural self worth and dignity.

The project is aimed at enabling the management of indigenous cultural resources and the training of stakeholders’ to acquire greater mastery of ICTs, opening up new opportunities for traditional and innovative income generating activities, according to UNESCO project managers Rosa Maria Gonzalez, Frédéric Vacheron and Montserrat Martell.

The main goals of the project are to provide training on the use of ICTs for local cultural expression (be it through audiovisual and/or computer-based content) and to encourage the production of indigenous cultural contents for the media. It also aims at providing international exposure to locally produced contents.

It is estimated that indigenous peoples number some 350 million individuals (4% of humanity) representing over 5,000 languages and cultures in more than 70 countries on every continent. Many live on the fringes of society, in isolated rural communities and marginalized urban settings without access to ICT often lacking the necessary communication capacities to revitalize their cultural resources as a factor of intercultural dialogue.

Within the framework of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the safeguarding of indigenous cultures, their access to the means of expression and dissemination and the fostering of media pluralism have become an absolute imperative in the context of globalization, making it necessary for human diversity to take its place at the heart of cultural and communication policies for development.
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