The new paradigm of Brussels IT strategy

May, 2024

The Brussels-Capital Region is methodically building its Sustainable IT strategy. Stone by stone, the Region is asserting its commitment and its strategy. To the point of seeking to inspire others by delivering an operational methodological kit for a sustainable IT approach.

“In terms of Sustainable IT, the Brussels region is the most advanced of the three Belgian regions!” Thierry Chappe, Sustainable IT director at Paradigm, the IT centre of the Brussels-Capital Region (formerly CIRB), proudly explains. Since 2021, the Region has been working on its sustainable IT strategy, driven by the regional government. Now well advanced in its mastery of the levers to be activated for a sustainable IT strategy, the Region, through Paradigm, is now seeking to provide turnkey operational resources to all its administrations, and why not even inspire the whole of Belgium.

Paradigm employs 500 to 600 people. Its business is to provide IT services to the Region, ranging from the largest administrations to the smallest local authorities. “This represents around a hundred customers, exclusively from the Brussels Region”, explains Thierry Chappe. In concrete terms, Paradigm manages, among other things, three datacenters, private Internet networks for sensitive administrations and the Wifi network in the city of Brussels, which is free for citizens. Paradigm also places IT managers in administrations, and manages public procurement contracts for equipment and web service development.

“Finally, the Region's digital transformation is also our responsibility,” he continues “in 2021, Minister Bernard Clerfayt has determined sustainable IT as a key axis of digital transformation. That's when my position was created”.x

Construction step by step

To develop his approach to sustainable IT, Thierry Chappe began by creating a network to bring on board the largest possible number of administrations. His first target was the most motivated. He offered membership to around twenty public sector bodies at the Belgian Institute for Sustainable IT (ISIT-BE, co-organizer of GreenTech Forum Brussels), to involve them more closely in the process and enable them to increase their skills by joining a wider group of organisations.

One of the starting points was also the signing of the ISIT-BE Charter for all these administrations, enabling the first milestones to be set in terms of commitment. “Today, this network represents 13 administrations, including some of the city's largest, such as Bruxelles Environnement, Bruxelles Formations, STIB, SPRB and Talent” explains Thierry Chappe, “and includes 74 participants divided into five working groups”. After a long test and learning phase, Paradigm is now structuring the deployment of its sustainable IT approach through specific actions and commitments.

Among these actions, Thierry Chappe explains that he leaded an experiment with Paradigm for a recent laptop order: “We had the new laptops shipped by water, first by sea to Antwerp, then by river. The last few kilometers were then covered by cargo bike”. The result: 75% carbon savings in the transport phase, compared with conventional methods.

Fostering a culture of change

When it comes to equipment in general, Paradigm exercises its ability to repair equipment and extend its lifespan. Sourcing is key to this. “Implementing a repair culture is a big job, both internally and with our suppliers when they provide support”, he explains, “for example, Bruxelles Environnement has set up a ‘trolley’ with all the tools needed for repairs. They go all around the buildings, inviting people to make repairs on the spot!”

The culture of change in equipment repair, as in other sustainability issues, remains a challenge for any organisation. Paradigm has set up two full-time jobs on this topic. In all, there are eight green IT managers across the 13 government departments involved in the initiative, three of them full-time, in charge of deploying sustainable IT. These green IT managers are implementing eight key projects, identified in conjunction with Paradigm's supervisory ministry. “Voluntary today, perhaps mandatory tomorrow", explains Thierry Chappe.

Beyond the resistance to cultural change he has to deal with, he points out the lack of budget. “These are great steps forward, but we need bigger budgets to multiply our impact. As with all sustainability issues, we need to find the right relays to invest in.”

Paradigm understands that the key to shifting the balance is its ability to influence. “The challenge is to influence the private and public sectors at regional, national and then European level,” explains the Sustainable IT Director, “and in this respect, GreenTech Forum Brussels is an essential link in attracting the attention of the European Commission and Parliament, and trying to find intermediaries.”

Inspiring others

With its lead over other Belgian regions, the Brussels-Capital Region is keen to inspire as many others as possible. To this end, the Region is preparing a kit that structures the methodology so that an organisation that wants to deploy a Sustainable IT approach operationally doesn't have to reinvent everything.

“It's a step-by-step methodology, a set of practices, tools and contacts to help project leaders deploy the Sustainable IT approach in six months or a year” explains Thierry Chappe. The kit sets out milestones and suggests structured meetings and workshops. The aim is to provide the necessary resources and tools for each stage of the process.

The guide is primarily designed for the Brussels-Capital Region's administrations, Paradigm's clients, “but after that, we want to make it available in creative common to as many people as possible, to facilitate the process for everyone”, enthuses Thierry Chappe. It's a way for the Region to facilitate the spread of Sustainable IT across government departments and businesses in all three Belgian regions, and to exert its influence in support of the ecological transition.


Thierry Chappe is Sustainable IT Director at Paradigm. He is also a member of the GreenTech Forum Brussels 2024 Program Committee.

Article written by Rémy Marrone for GreenTech Forum Brussels

GreenTech Forum Brussels is the new Tech and Sustainability event.
Co-organised by the Belgian Institute for Sustainable IT, Numeum and SustAIn.brussels, it will take place the 18 et 19 of June 2024 at La Maison de la Poste in Brussels.
More information