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PRESS RELEASE October 12, 2017

1.1 Billion ‘Invisible’ People without ID are Priority for new High Level Advisory Council on Identification for Development

WASHINGTON, October 12, 2017— More than 1.1 billion people in the world are unable to prove their identity and therefore lack access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education and finance. The majority live in Africa and Asia and more than a third are children who are unregistered. To help address this critical situation, today the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative launched a High Level Advisory Council to advance the realization of robust, inclusive and responsible digital identification systems as a sustainable development priority.

At this 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 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.”

Achieving identification for all has potential to 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.

“Digital identification can play an important role in achieving the sustainable development goals,” said UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. “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 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.

The members of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council are:

  • Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer
  • Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
  • Toomas Hendrik Illves, former President of Estonia
  • Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India
  • Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial
  • 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
  • Iqbal Quadir, founder of the Legatum Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of Grameenphone


Additional Quotes from ID4D High Level Advisory Council Members:

Toomas Hendrik Ilves: “An important role of the Advisory Council is to ensure identification acts as a bridge between the often-separate realms of technology and society so there is a secure and trusted relationship between people and governments. I have seen first-hand in Estonia how—with careful consideration of privacy and security—these relationships can leverage identification to produce positive technological and societal outcomes in support of development.”

Eric Jing: "With one-seventh of the world’s population living without an officially recognized form of identification, families are left without access to healthcare, education, and social and financial services. At Ant Financial, we believe that closing this identification gap is critical to our mission to bring the world equal opportunities. It is an honor to be a part of the World Bank Group's ID4D High Level Advisory Council and to collaborate with other members to help further these shared goals.”

Nandan Nilekani: “Unique digital identification is an essential public infrastructure for all kinds of functions and innovations in the digital future— not just to solve one issue, but as a platform for multiple applications. The internet and GPS taught us that if you create a technology platform well, it can be used for both government transformation and innovation. Internet was designed for communications and GPS was built for navigation, but now they have led to transformational innovation across the world. The same can be true for ID.”

Carolina Trivelli: “In Peru, we have used the national ID system to drive social and financial inclusion, the modernization of cash transfers, and the empowerment of women. The national ID number has enabled us, for example, to achieve interoperability of mobile payments. I am excited to be part of the High Level Advisory Council as we help other countries to design their own national ID systems to realize these transformational benefits.”

Dr. Benno Ndulu: “This initiative will help give IDs to hundreds of millions of Africans for the first time. It will help us grow inclusively, it will create new digital markets, and it will help us integrate more rapidly. Africa is innovating in this space with initiatives such as mobile money and mobile birth registration - and now is the time to scale these up.”


The Identification for Development Initiative (ID4D)

The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative helps countries realize robust, inclusive and responsible digital identification systems that enable all people to access services and exercise their rights. ID4D works closely with countries and partners to provide identification to the estimated 1.1 billion currently without one and to address some of the most pressing development challenges today. ID4D has three pillars of activity: country and regional engagement; thought leadership; and global convening and platforms. 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.


For more information, please visit:
For information on official identification systems, please visit:
ID4D Global Data Set


More information


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