An Egyptian woman holds up her new national ID card

Photo: UN Women / Fatma Elzahraa Yassin

Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

– World Bank

A landmark publication in the identity discussion, this World Bank paper offers 10 principles to address the 1.5 billion people around the world who lack legal ID

Bringing together partners from across the international development spectrum – from the UN and global institutions to public and private sectors – this paper spearheads the principles of the World Bank's Identification for Development initiative. With its start point focussed on the lack of access for more than a billion people to formal ID, it highlights the importance of addressing this "identification gap" as a means for individuals to access key services, rights and roles in society, as well as progressing the UN's Global Goals.

We believe that every person has the right to participate fully in their society and economy. Without proof of identity, people may be denied access to rights and services — they may be unable to open a bank account, attend school, collect benefits such as social security, seek legal protection, or otherwise engage in modern society.

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The paper also offers 10 shared principles to help guide the application of identity programmes (particularly in the field of international development), centered on the themes of Inclusion, Design and Governance.

The 10 principles on identification for sustainable development – courtesy of World Bank

In their own words from the abstract:

"Living without proof of legal identity is a serious obstacle to social, economic, and political inclusion. As public and private service providers increasingly transition into the digital realm, the ability for individuals to prove who they are will be essential for accessing benefits and services via digital platforms. This move toward digital platforms can increase efficiency of service delivery, create significant savings for citizens, governments, and businesses by reducing transaction costs, as well as drive innovation. This can generate many benefits, but can also exacerbate the risk of isolation for poorly-connected populations including rural and remote communities, the forcibly displaced, stateless persons and other marginalized groups. Leveling the playing field requires a coordinated, sustained effort by countries as well as stakeholders involved in the provision and use of identification systems. A shared vision through this set of common Principles can contribute to robust and universal identification systems that in turn promote social and economic inclusion and sustainable development outcomes."

World Bank