18-19 June 2019, Antwerp, Belgium – The International Training Centre for Authorities and Leaders in Flanders (CIFAL Flanders) hosted the workshop “How to make digitalization SDG-proof” at the EU Development Days 2019 Forum (EDD19), Europe’s leading forum on development since 2006.

This year, the overarching theme of the EDD19 is “Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind”. The Forum main objective is to gather stakeholders in order to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. In this context, CIFAL Flanders hosted a workshop that brought together 50+ participants to promote capacity building on bridging digital divide in an inclusive and sustainable way.

The workshop featured speakers and experts from four organizations as examples of best practices that aim to bridge the digital divide both on a local and global scale. For instance, Didier Appels, Strategic Partnerships Director at Close the Gap, explained that this institution aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned computers donated by European companies to educational, medical and social projects in developing and emerging countries.

Maïté Cluydts, Brussels coordinator at Hack Your Future, presented the importance of encouraging refugees to build digital skills for a career in web development, to facilitate the integration of newcomers, and to address the shortage of qualified workforce in the IT sector.

Adéline Brion, programme coordinator at Lie Detectors, explained the award-winning project to foster critical thinking within 10-15-year-old school children in a world increasingly populated by propaganda. This project is aimed at empowering children to understand news media in order to make informed choices and resist peer pressure as they assemble their worldview.

Fourth and final best practice was presented by Julie Foulon, founder and CEO of Girleek. This initiative spins around enhancing the situation of women and minorities employment in the new technologies and digital fields.

Following the presentations, debates took place around effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, using the holistic SDGs assessment tool developed by CIFAL Flanders. For this endeavour, Peter Wollaert, Executive Director of CIFAL Flanders, guided the participants through an interactive brainstorming session. Initiatives were evaluated in light of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development, using CIFAL Flanders’ Action Learning Methodology. As a result, hands-on solutions and recommendations to improve the sustainable impact of digital projects and combating inequalities were provided.

Closing remarks were given by Anne-Sofie Van de Velde, advisor legal affairs at Cabinet Vice Prime Minister and Alexander De Croo, Minister for Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal services, emphasizing that “Digital world truly opens up a world of opportunities… Bridging the digital divide means bridging the opportunities gap”, which in turn is essential in order to make sure that no one is left behind.


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