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10 Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

This blog originally appeared on The Center for Global Development and was written by Alan Gelb, Vyjayanti T Desai, Julia Clark and Anna Diofasi.

The global identification gap is a significant challenge for sustainable development. We hope the new Principles on Identification are an important step to closing it.

In the modern world, many everyday transactions—such as opening a bank account, registering for school, activating a SIM card or mobile phone, obtaining formal employment, or receiving social transfers—require individuals to prove who they are. For the estimated 1.5 billion people in developing countries who lack proof of identity (World Bank data, 2016), this creates a serious obstacle for full participation in formal economic, social and political life. Like individuals, governments also need robust, secure identification systems to perform core state functions and administer many of the programs and services vital for development, including social transfers, education and healthcare, and emergency and disaster response.

Growing awareness of the need for more inclusive, robust identification systems has led to a global call to action, embodied in Target 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “by 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.” As public attention is increasing, a number of successful initiatives from around the world have highlighted the development benefits of reliable identification systems:

Yet the path to creating robust identification systems and achieving Target 16.9 is not always clear. In the past... Read more on www.cgdev.org.