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World Bank’s ID4D initiative launches advisory council to advance digital identification as a sustainable development priority

World Bank’s ID4D initiative launches advisory council to advance digital identification as a sustainable development priority

The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative has launched a High Level Advisory Council to advance the realisation of robust, inclusive and responsible digital identification systems as a sustainable development priority.

Over 1.1 billion people in the world, which is nearly 1 in 7 individuals, are unable to prove their identity. Consequently, their access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education and finance is restricted. The majority live in Africa and Asia and more than a third are children who are unregistered.

Identification for all could potentially advance many key elements of the Sustainable Development Goals, including social protection, women and girls’ empowerment, financial inclusion, governance, healthcare, digital development, and humanitarian assistance. In addition to reducing a basic barrier to exercising rights and accessing services, digital identification can decrease waste and leakage in public administration, facilitate innovation in how services are delivered, and empower individuals with agency over their personal data.

ID4D has three pillars of activity: country and regional engagement; thought leadership; and global convening and platforms. ID4D aims to help countries analyse problems, design solutions, and implement new systems to increase the number of people with official identification and the development impact of the overall identification system. As of 2017, the World Bank has digital identification and civil registration projects in over a dozen countries worth over US$500 million. The ID4D agenda supports the achievement of the World Bank’s two overarching goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity.

The Advisory Council will provide strategic guidance to the ID4D initiative and leverage international forums and engagements with countries to advocate its vision and the ten Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Towards the Digital Age[1].

At the inaugural meeting of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council—co-chaired by World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed —eminent thought leaders from across the public and private sectors discussed the opportunities, challenges and emerging trends that countries face. As the first of such a group assembled on this agenda, the Council members highlighted how they can serve as ambassadors to influence the approaches of countries, development and humanitarian agencies and the private sector.

 “We are at an exciting point of technology, collaboration and commitment converging to make unprecedented improvements in the lives of the 1.1 billion people living without identification, especially in vulnerable and forcibly-displaced populations,” said Ms. Georgieva. “We can use the global reach of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council to harness digital identification and maximize its transformational potential for the benefit of people who currently are not being served because they cannot be seen or heard.”

UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said, “Digital identification can play an important role in achieving the sustainable development goals. It can enable the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people to gain access to critical services, from education to healthcare and financing, while also advancing their legal and political rights. We look to this advisory council to help ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age.”

The members of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council also include Toomas Hendrik Illves, former President of Estonia (Estonia offers a first of its kind e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world); Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, which operates Alipay (Ant Financial recently launched a facial-recognition payments technology for commercial use. With “Smile to Pay,” Alipay users can authenticate their payments through a combination of facial scanning and inputting their mobile phone numbers.) ; Carolina Trivelli, former Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Peru and Chairman of Pagos Digitales Peruanos; Dr. Benno Ndulu, Governor, Bank of Tanzania; Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and founder of Celtel; and Iqbal Quadir, founder of the Legatum Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of Grameenphone.


  • Ensuring universal coverage for individuals from birth to death, free from discrimination.
  • Removing barriers to access and usage and disparities in the availability of information and technology.
  • Establishing a robust—unique, secure, and accurate—identity.
  • Creating a platform that is interoperable and responsive to the needs of various users.
  • Using open standards and ensuring vendor and technology neutrality.
  • Protecting user privacy and control through system design.
  • Planning for financial and operational sustainability without compromising accessibility.
  • Safeguarding data privacy, security, and user rights through a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.
  • Establishing clear institutional mandates and accountability.
  • Enforcing legal and trust frameworks though independent oversight and adjudication of grievances.

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