‘Technology for a better world’
Our contribution to a sustainable future
To provide a response to current global challenges such as digitalization, the creation of prosperity and well-being, the climate crisis and the call for a sustainable, circular economy, the technology industry has charted its own sustainability strategy: 'Technology for a better world'.
As a technology industry, we want to be part of the solution and help shape the sustainable future of people and planet. With our sustainability strategy, we are committed to reducing our footprint and to mitigating further the impact of our sector on people and the environment. At the same time, we are committed to creating as much added value for society as possible through what makes our sector unique - technological solutions. Through these two tracks, we contribute to the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Ambitions and commitments
Four ambitions are central to our strategy, namely to
- Care for people
- Contribute to a better society
- Protect the environment and the planet, and
- Create sustainable added value
Each ambition comprises three impact areas, for which we have defined commitments and indicators.
How did our strategy come about?
Our sustainability strategy is based on an analysis of the material impact of the technology industry that we conducted in 2019. Both the impact on the planet and the impact on people and society were mapped out. The solutions with which the technology industry contributes to a more sustainable society were also part of the analysis.
In 2022, we will update our materiality analysis with a view to the next sustainability report.
Step 1: survey of stakeholders
A core group of 15 companies met three times in spring 2019 to determine the priority impact themes of the technology industry. The companies came from the manufacturing industry, the digital industry and the environmental and energy-intensive industry - the three subsectors of the technology industry. The participants mapped the impact of their business operations and assigned a weight to each impact. This resulted in a list of 20 topics that are relevant to the sustainability of the technology industry.
We presented this list of topics to 20 institutions and associations, such as governments, trade unions, an NGO and knowledge institutions. They checked whether the topics were complete, relevant and clearly defined. They evaluated, each from their own perspective, the selection of the material topics and the weight they were given. This process resulted in a list of 12 material topics.
Step 2: creation of a materiality index
We drew up the materiality matrix based on the feedback from the stakeholders. The materiality matrix shows which impact domains are important for the technology industry and for the stakeholders involved and indicates the importance of each impact domain.
The materiality matrix shows that ethics, integrity and transparency, the impact of production processes on climate and environment, and the impact of technology on society and people, safety, health and welfare, circular economy and prosperity are the most important material topics.
1 Ethics and integrity 2 Diversity 3 Sustainable employment 4 Data management and privacy 5 Safety, health and well-being 6 Impact of technology on people and society 7 Impact of production processes on the environment and climate 8 Total product footprint 9 Mobility 10 Circular economy 11 Prosperity and well-being 12 Partnerships for a better world
The materiality analysis was financed within a subsidy project of MVO Vlaanderen.
Step 3: development of a sustainability policy
In 2021, together with a group of six member companies, we developed the sustainability strategy based on the material topics. In order to take into account also the possible downside of far-reaching technological innovation, we added digital inclusion and transparency to the list.
We questioned six member companies about the ambitions, the ambition level and the commitments of the technology industry for each of the material topics in two workshops. This resulted in the strategy with the four ambitions as its foundation. The six companies were also given the opportunity to apply indicators to monitor the commitments.
We honed the storyline of each impact domain and defined the commitments (2025-2030) and indicators during several workshops with the Agoria board for the period January – February 2022. The commitments and indicators were presented to the governing body on 21 February 2022, whereupon some commitments were adjusted. The Agoria executive committee approved the final versions on 25 February.
First sustainability report
We want to inform our stakeholders about our progress on the sustainability front by means of sustainability reports. In doing so, we want to be transparent about the results we have already achieved and the environmental and social challenges our sector must continue to address.
This first report, which we are launching together with our sustainability strategy, is conceived as a baseline measurement. This baseline measurement does not yet include a dataset for a number of indicators. The monitoring of those indicators will commence in 2022 and will be addressed in our next report.
Inspire and connect
With our first sustainability report, we want to report, but also inspire. Throughout the report, we have included numerous sample stories of members who have embarked on the path of sustainable change.
With these cases, we encourage companies within and outside our sector to make their business operations more sustainable and to reduce their negative impact on people and the environment. At the same time, we want to stimulate companies to develop new technological solutions that help the world move forward and improve people's quality of life. This ambition fits seamlessly with the Agoria stated mission to 'Improve the quality of life' and our vision to shape the future in a sustainable way.
The launch of our first report forms the starting point for Agoria to communicate consistently about sustainability in the technology industry, in all its aspects. In this way, together with our members and stakeholders, we want to build an active community to work towards a more sustainable future.
Our contribution to the SDGs
With our sustainability strategy, we contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The SDGs are a global action plan to eradicate poverty, hunger and climate change by 2030, but also to achieve gender equality, good health and well-being, quality education and decent work for all. With our strategy, we subscribe to all 17 SDGs, but focus on the ones we have the most impact on:
We promote mental well-being at work (3.4). We pay attention to ergonomics and ensure a safe working environment throughout the supply chain (3.9).
We help match labour market supply and demand through training and create meaningful jobs. We are committed to increasing the participation rate in training (4.4). In addition, the technology industry wants to increase the digital knowledge of employees throughout the Belgian labour market (4.6).
We create a diverse and inclusive work environment by, among other things, working on the male/female ratio in the technology industry (5.1) and increasing the share of women in leadership positions (5.5).
We protect the environment by reducing our emissions to water (6.3, 6.6). Moreover, we reduce our water consumption and focus on water reuse (6.4, 6.5).
We bring our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by reducing our (direct and indirect) energy consumption (7.3) and switching to renewable energy (7.2).
We contribute to economic prosperity through technological modernization and innovations and by anchoring the manufacturing industry in Belgium (8.2). We create jobs and strengthen the labour market (8.3).
We make industry sustainable by modernizing infrastructure and facilities, developing innovative ESG technologies and tackling industrial processes (9.4). We invest in research and development to address societal challenges (9.5).
We are eliminating inequalities by increasing the digital literacy of workers across the Belgian labour market (10.3).
We develop technologies to make cities safer, healthier and more sustainable, for example through smart mobility (11.3). We are committed to the electrification of the entire company fleet and to increasing the use of alternative means of transport such as bicycles and shared scooters (11.2).
We make every effort to extend the life span of products and develop and implement product-service combinations according to the principles of ecodesign (12.1). We also focus on recycling to keep (residual) flows that cannot be avoided in the chain (12.5).
We reduce the climate impact of our products and services throughout the value chain and lower our emissions from freight transport, commuting and service trips by electrifying the company fleet and promoting sustainable means of transport. This way, we bring our greenhouse gas emissions to zero (13.3).
We protect the environment by reducing our emissions to air, soil and water to ensure the preservation of ecosystems (15.1).
We are transparent about our impacts and implement a code of conduct (16.6). With our technology solutions, we help both the technology sector and other sectors to protect their data (16.10).
We are committed to shaping new ecosystems and also participate in them as a sector organization (17.17).