UNESCO's efforts in promoting multilingualism in the digital environment are based on the 2003 Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace, emphasizing the need for technological solutions to enhance linguistic diversity. A 2021 study revealed that 76.9% of online languages align with the top ten most spoken languages worldwide. During a Partner's Forum on 16 November 2023, coinciding with the 42nd UNESCO General Conference, an expert panel emphasized the collective effort required to preserve and integrate indigenous languages into the digital realm.
An exemplary partnership with the Archipelago Manuscript Society (MANASSA) in Indonesia, showcases UNESCO’s dedication. Collaborating with MANASSA, UNESCO digitize and restore endangered manuscripts in Lombok. The focus extended beyond preservation to building the capacity of community members, ensuring easy accessibility to this fragile documentary heritage. As a result of these efforts, 10 manuscripts were restored and digitized, each with accompanied by its metadata. The Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture plans to replicate this activity in 2024.
UNESCO’s commitment extends to advancing scripts in cyberspace. Since 2020, UNESCO has been involved in a flagship initiative, Connecting the Nation Through Digitalisation of Nusantara Scripts in cooperation with the Indonesian Internet Domain Association (PANDI). This initiative facilitated online accessibility to seven Indonesian scripts. The activities culminated in a literacy seminar titled "Promoting Indigenous Languages and Scripts in Indonesia’s Cyberspace" at Padjajaran University in Bandung on 16 March 2023. The seminar concluded with the launch of a literature directory website called Dirlibada providing access to 587 literary works in seven local Indonesian languages: Balinese, Banjar, Batak, Javanese, Lampung, Madurese and Sundanese.
UNESCO has also lent its support to the Digital Nusantara Cultural Foundation to organize social media training for Sundanese-speaking youth, focusing on combatting hate speech, disinformation and promoting freedom of expression online. The training sought to foster multilingualism in cyberspace and address online harmful content in line with international standards. Over 100 senior high school and university students from West Java Province were empowered with the skills to identify and address harmful content specifically in the Sundanese language. The session was held on 16 December 2023 at the University of Pasundan. As part of the initiative, the Foundation compiled a database of 1000 commonly used Sundanese words among youth, which could potentially be linked to hate speech. This database serves as a valuable resource, accessible online and open for public use.
The language status of Indonesia is also documented in UNESCO's World Atlas of Languages, an interactive online tool aiming to record global languages within their sociocultural and socio-political contexts.
Preserving linguistic diversity in Indonesia stands a key priority in building inclusive knowledge societies, and UNESCO plays a major role in promoting the use of multiple languages in cyberspace. As one of the co-leads in the implementation of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), UNESCO works with Member States and partner institutions towards digital empowerment of language communities.