UCL Grand Challenges


Leaving No One Behind, Whatever Language they Speak: The Language Data Initiative

Language data is critical to ensuring no one is left behind when achieving the SDGs. UCL’s Centre for Translation is working with CLEAR Global to enhance accessibility and usability of language data.

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1 September 2021


Grant: Grand Challenges Special Initiatives—UN SDGs: Pathways to Achievement
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £9,900.15 


  • Federico M. Federici, Centre for Translation Studies
  • Jason Symons, CLEAR Global

Accessible, accurate, usable data about language is critical to ensuring that no one is left behind in achieving the SDGs. Reliable language data is hard to access, perpetuating inequalities - either behind paywalls or in scholarly databases ill-suited to the operational needs of development and humanitarian services.

This project addresses two fundamental gaps in the knowledge and tools available to humanitarian and development actors for understanding and addressing language-based exclusion in the communities they serve.Firstly, it will research and assess new and innovative sources to expand the pool of available data on speakers of languages, particularly marginalized languages. And, secondly, it will develop an operational reference catalogue of spoken languages for use by the humanitarian and development sectors.

This project draws on the combined expertise of UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies and CLEAR Global’s data solutions team. The project will develop resources that directly enhance the accessibility and usability of language data for use by humanitarian and development organisations. It will also deliver efficiencies in CLEAR Global’s language mapping and data curation, enabling a faster response to crises and streamlined support to aid organizations’ data collection efforts. This exploratory research will underpin funding applications for doing this at scale. 

Impacts and Outputs

  • Awaiting impacts and outputs