For the fourth year in a row, DNS Belgium is competing for the Voka Sustainable Business Charter. We won the charter in the past three years and it has earned us the title of ‘SDG-Pioneer’. This means that DNS Belgium makes a substantial contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
Obviously it is something we are very proud of. But when it comes to sustainability, our ambitions reach further. Organisations that have been awarded the VOKA charter five times and have initiated at least one pilot project or commitment relating to transition may call themselves SDG Champions. After six times, and a human rights campaign, you can become an SDG Ambassador, which is of course DNS Belgium's goal.
No organisations have been able to claim this title as yet, because the trajectory towards it is still in full development. And although we have great confidence, we are still a long way from achieving it. To become SDG Champion first, we recently submitted our project for 2021: DigitalFourYouth.be.
Reducing the digital divide
DigitalForYouth.be was founded in 2019 by DNS Belgium and Close The Gap and aims to provide all young people with safe and easy access to ICT. Through various calls and projects, DigitalForYouth.be supports schools and organisations whose aim is to help us reduce the digital divide in Belgium.
DigitalForYouth.be focuses our sustainability efforts on social transition.
We launched the project a few years ago and it had an enormous impact in 2020. We collected no less than 15,000 laptops and effectively distributed 14,000. It made a real difference for young people who were home schooled during lockdown but did not have their own laptop yet.
By collecting written off laptops, refurbishing and distributing them through schools to young people who need them the most, we can effectively reduce the digital divide among young people in Belgium.
It does not end there though. The laptops we give to young people end up in families of course. Brothers, sisters and parents can also use these laptops to, for example, communicate with the government, work, apply for a job, etc. In this way, we not only reduce the digital divide for young people, but also for their parents and promote equality.
By collecting the laptops from companies and refurbishing them, we extend their life span by an average of five years. Laptops that remain in circulation for a longer time are not discarded of course. Thanks to DigitalForYouth.be, we therefore also reduce the e-waste mountain. Irreparable laptops are recycled via Recupel. In other words, DigitalForYouth.be also does its bit for the climate.
Boosting six SDGs
In 2021, DigitalForYouth aims to collect and refurbish another 1,500 to 2,000 laptops, and distribute them to schools and other projects that strengthen the digital skills of young people.
In short, DigitalForYouth.be contributes to no less than six sustainable development goals of the UN:
- SDG 4: quality education
- SDG 10: reduced inequality
- SDG 12: responsible consumption and production
- SDG 13: climate action
- SDG 16: peace, justice and strong institutions
- SDG 17: partnerships to achieve the goals
The latter is reflected in our continuous search for new donors, companies that we actively try to involve in the project. We also establish as many structural collaborations as possible.
For example, we work with the King Baudouin Foundation, i.e. a neutral partner to distribute the laptops. Through the King Baudouin Foundation, we will organise three project calls in 2021. Organisations that want to strengthen the digital skills of youngsters are able to submit a project in which they explain why they need laptops.
Plan Samen Groeien
Finally, DNS Belgium will also be taking part in VOKA's Plan Samen Groeien. Through this scheme, VOKA wants to approach the economy and society differently by 2030 and work towards a sustainable, digital and healthy Flanders. VOKA is reaching out to all parties, entrepreneurs, employees, trade unions, civil society organisations and committed civilians to draw up a new socio-economic pact together. It is an invitation to improve and develop the ideas which DNS Belgium, from its own mission, is unable to resist.