Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development
H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands has been committed to literacy for years, based on the conviction that literacy is a basic human right and a precondition for a healthy, strong and durable society. It was while doing her Masters in Journalism at UC Berkeley in the US that Princess Laurentien first encountered people who had learned to read and write later in life. Following her studies, she worked for CNN Headline News in Atlanta. Years later, alongside her professional activities in Brussels, she taught Flemish adults with low literacy skills as a volunteer.
In the Netherlands, Princess Laurentien received the ABC award for her literacy work in 2003, the year she also established the Reading & Writing Foundation (Stichting Lezen & Schrijven). The aims of the foundation are to raise awareness, bring together traditional and new stakeholders and develop pilot projects with a view to rolling out these practical solutions more broadly. Princess Laurentien is Chair of the foundation.
Princess Laurentien chairs the High Level Expert Group on Literacy since its launch on 1 February 2011 by the European Commission. The Group will publish its report on 5 and 6 September this year. She was appointed UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development on 24 March 2009. In addition, Princess Laurentien is patron of a range of literacy and language-related organisations, including: UNESCO Amsterdam World Book Capital; the Dutch Language Association; Foundation for studying with disabilities; the Netherlands Audio and Braille Library; Association of Public Libraries. In 2006, she chaired the Jury of the prestigious AKO Literature Prize 2006 and in 2005 she was Patron of the Hans Christian Andersen Year. She is also President of the European Cultural Foundation. Princess Laurentien was awarded the Dutch Majoor Bosshardt Prize for her dedication in fighting illiteracy.