Identification for Development (ID4D)


"We acknowledge the scale of the public health crisis arising from deaths and injuries on the roads of developing and emerging countries... and recognize that a systematic, multisectoral response is required to address this global crisis."

- Joint Statement by Seven Development Banks, 2011

From Advocacy to Implementation


That is 1 in every 5 individuals. The majority live in Africa and Asia, and a third are children.



The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative plays an essential role in helping countries move forward to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.


Photo: UN Women/Fatma Elzahraa Yassin
"Identification provides a foundation for other rights and gives a voice to the voiceless."

- Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa



Without official identification, a person can struggle to access:

  • Financial services, such as opening a bank account or obtaining capital and credit
  • Social benefits, including food vouchers, pensions, or cash transfers
  • Healthcare, such as health insurance, vaccinations, and maternal care
  • Education, such as enrolling children in school or applying for scholarships
  • Political and legal rights, such as voting, filing petitions in courts, owning property, or receiving an inheritance
  • Gender equality, including prevention of early and child marriage
  • Migration, including seeking asylum and crossing borders legally and safely

Collectively, the barriers individuals face in turn create larger barriers for the countries they live in.

Without strong identification systems
, countries can struggle to:

  • Deliver vital services to people
  • Govern effectively 
  • Eliminate duplicative or inefficient programs
  • Make efficient use of limited resources
  • Produce statistics accurately

ID4D helps countries analyze 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. When more people have formal identification and identification systems function well, individuals access necessary services, governments function better, use resources more efficiently, and improve statistics to better inform their future policies.

New Technologies creating New Opportunities for all


With the transformational potential of modern solutions—the advances in identification technology (both digital and biometric) and the dramatically falling costs of technology and implementation—there is an opportunity to leapfrog traditional paper-based approaches and build strong and efficient identification systems at a scale not previously achievable. Mobile devices also offer promising solutions to enroll and authenticate individuals with a unique identification, particularly in remote and rural areas.

Reaching the SDGs: One Identity, One Country at a time


A robust and efficient solution is becoming a priority for governments around the world and is included as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.9: “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.” It is also key to the attainment of many other SDG goals.

Strong identification systems can lead countries to become more economically prosperous and secure, operate more effectively and efficiently, protect human rights, and deliver benefits to people. There is evidence of this in a number of developing countries:

  • In THAILAND, the national ID number helps the government achieve universal health coverage and improve overall delivery of health services.
  • In PERU, universal registration of the population allows the Government to send immediate assistance to families affected in the event of a natural disaster.
  • In PAKISTAN, biometric technology ensures that women receive cash transfers directly and as a result, empowers them to decide how the money should be spent.
  • In INDIA, the unique ID number—known as Aadhaar—helps ensure that benefits and subsidies reach only the intended beneficiaries, which generated enough savings to pay for its establishment within a few years.


ID4D concentrates on three focus areas:




The World Bank Group is conducting research, gathering expertise about best practices, and encouraging shared approaches that will help countries understand why they need to invest in improving identification systems and how to best implement programs.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-2489/Asselin
ID4D will provide policy planners, development organizations, think tanks, foundations, and private sector associations with a common platform to share what they have learned about identification systems and how to improve them. This will advance their understanding of the subject and help reach a consensus about the best ways to develop, maintain, and implement effective identification systems in specific countries and across entire regions.


The thought leadership agenda consists of:

  • Conducting and gathering research on an array of subjects, including reducing barriers to accessing financial services, improving gender equality and health, and understanding what specific factors encourage or hinder people from enrolling in official identification systems. 
  • Collecting and publishing case studies of best practices and lessons learned, including examples of types of problems that create bottlenecks, how to reduce waste and inefficiencies, and examples of the early impact of intervention in countries already engaged in building new identification systems.
  • Creating guides that provide user-friendly assistance about designing identification systems, including emerging authentication technologies, financing, legal and regulatory frameworks, and establishing linkages between civil registration and broader official identification systems.
  • Impact assessments to determine the social and economic effect that identification systems can have
  • Annual updates of an ID4D dataset – the only dataset with indicators of coverage and other qualitative data for 198 economies – and strengthening statistical methodologies for monitoring SDG 16.9. 


© mihailomilovanovic

ID4D brings together like-minded partner organizations to shape the first set of shared Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development replicable minimum standards, and international legal and regulatory frameworks. Together, these guide the creation of reliable identification systems that can work in different regions and countries. ID4D also facilitates South-South knowledge exchange, so governments can learn from successful models implemented in other emerging countries.

Together, these partners have reached a global consensus about how to create modern identification systems that achieve the ambitious goal of “Making Everyone Count” and ensuring that people have the identification they need to access important services and rights.


© Mia Harbitz

ID4D efforts at the country level supports countries to assess existing systems, design improvements, implement more robust systems, and strengthen linkages to services.

The World Bank will use a number of tools available across all stages of intervention at the country level.

Country assessments: To evaluate a country’s identity ecosystems, ID4D will help by conducting a country assessment using the Identify Management System Analysis (IMSA) tool. This tool is the first point of engagement in countries where assessments have not been conducted yet.       

Country support, including:

  • Convening multi-stakeholder dialogue across ministries, agencies, and private sectors
  • Advising on legal and regulatory frameworks, including data protection and privacy
  • Designing sustainable business models and institutional arrangements
  • Advising on technology standards, encouraging open architecture, and open standards
  • Linking identification to service delivery
  • Financing the necessary infrastructure
  • Monitoring and evaluation, including impact assessments

For example, with the support of $165 million in assistance from the World Bank, Bangladesh will have registered and provided smart ID cards and unique numbers to 100 million people by 2018, using biometrics to ensure uniqueness and facilitate verification when needed.

While ID4D is advancing single-country engagements, it also is developing and supporting regional approaches to ensure that identification systems are established in an integrated, interoperable manner to accelerate regional integration through safe and orderly migration, mutual recognition, and infrastructure for common digital markets.


Given the size of the global identification gap, no single country, international organization, NGO, or private sector partner can surmount this challenge by working alone— coordination is needed at global, regional and national levels.  To this end, ID4D has been developing critical relationships with a range of others also working on this emerging topic – from UN agencies, other development partners, think tanks and academics, regional bodies, private sector associations and standards bodies.

In addition, to accelerate our work globally, the ID4D Partnership Platform and Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) was established with a catalytic contribution from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This MDTF provides an opportunity to build a common platform to advance global knowledge and activities on this emerging topic, accelerate engagement with country clients, and test out new approaches.



Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age

More than 15 organizations came together to develop a set of shared “Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age” which considers the fundamentals to maximizing the benefits of identification systems while mitigating the risks. We hope additional organizations would be interested in joining, and consider this to be a living document to be revised in the future with further learning and implementation.

The State of Identification Systems in Africa: A Synthesis of Country Assessments
[Download PDF]

The ability to prove one’s identity is a cornerstone of participation in modern life, yet over 1.1 billion people lack proof of legal identity. As a first step in assisting client countries to close this identity gap, the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative conducts Identity Management Systems Analyses (IMSAs) to evaluate countries’ identity ecosystems and facilitate collaboration with governments. This report synthesizes the findings of IMSAs carried out in 17 African countries between 2015 and 2016.


Toolkit for Africa [Download PDF: ENGLISH / FRENCH]

This report provides a strategic view of the role of identification in a country's national development, as well as a tactical view of the building blocks and policy choices needed for setting up a digital identification system in a developing country. The report presents a conceptual overview of digital identity management practices, providing a set of guidelines at a national level that policymakers can find helpful as they begin to think about modernizing the identity infrastructure of their country into digital identification. 


Digital Identity: Public and Private Sector Cooperation [Download PDF]

This paper lays out the digital identity lifecycle and the roles of various players across public and private sector.  It outlines public-private partnership models based on case examples across a range of countries.


Identification in the Context of Forced Displacement [Download PDF]

Lack of official identification significantly increases the vulnerability of those who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, persecution, or natural disaster. They may face difficulties proving their entitlement to nationality or to refugee status. This report considers the various inherent challenges in the context of forced displacement, as well as the World Bank’s support of robust identification and registration systems to mitigate the disruptive impacts.

The Role of Identification in Ending Child Marriage: Identification for Development [Download PDF]

The causes of child marriage are multifaceted and complex—including factors such as poverty, culture, and gender and social norms. This report investigates the positive role identification plays in preventing child marriage and empowering girls.


Identification for Development: Its Potential for Empowering Women and Girls [Download PDF]

This paper draws on case studies to examine the links between identification for women and girls and specific policy areas such as access to financial services, access to social protection schemes, and inclusion in electoral roles and voting. 


The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda Digital Identity [Download PDF]

The paper outlines the role of identity and identification and its importance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda—specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets.


ID4D Global Data Set [click here]

The ID4D dataset, updated annually, aggregates data from publicly available information on the coverage of official identification systems for 198 economies.



Ten Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

The global identification gap is a significant challenge for sustainable development. The new Principles on Identification are an important step to closing it. The principles were developed jointly by more than 16 global organizations in a cooperative and consultative process to coordinate efforts to change this reality for the 1.5 billion people without official identification. [Read more]

Underage with an ID to prove it

The vast majority of countries prohibit child marriage, yet some 15 million girls are still married before age 18 every year. The causes of child marriage are multifaceted and complex—including factors such as poverty, culture, and gender and social norms.  Birth certificates and effective ID systems can make it easier to enforce laws that prohibit this practice—and give young girls a chance at a better future. [Read more]


Making the invisible billion more visible: the power of digital identification

Twenty-first century technological innovation has created unprecedented opportunities to benefit the 1.5 billion individuals without official identification. [Read more]



Public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems

The World Bank, together with partners, launched the white paper, “Digital Identity: Towards Shared Principles for Public and Private Sector Cooperation,” which frames the initial key issues, benefits, and challenges for public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems. [Read more]


Identification for Development: Its Potential for Empowering Women and Girls

The reality in the developing world where one in five individuals have no proof of official identification disproportionately affects women and girls. They face more barriers in getting IDs because of restricted travel outside the home, lack of familial and communal support, and illiteracy. [Read more]

Making Everyone Count

A short video on the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative and its role in assisting countries to reach the transformation potential of digital identification. [Watch]


LIVE Annual Meetings | Identification for Development: Harnessing the Power of Digital Solutions

Join the World Bank’s Chief Economist and panelists from governments and the private sector as they discuss how countries have developed identification systems to enable a range of key development outcomes. [Watch]


Transforming Government: Digital Identity in India

In less than 5 years, India has created the world’s largest biometric identification program in the world, issuing 1.1 billion Aadhaar cards which have given identification to an unprecedented 99.5 percent of the adult population. [Watch]


Message from the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet

A message from the current President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet’s, on how identification can help facilitate access to services and rights, for all. [Watch]



For more information, please contact ID4D:


Vyjayanti Desai, Program Manager