Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out

Speeches & Transcripts

Ulrich Zachau's Opening Remarks at the Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

November 28, 2014

Ulrich Zachau Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Bangkok, Thailand

Transcript

Excellences, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a privilege to be here with you today. Thanks to ESCAP and the co-organizers - UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, WHO, the Asian Development Bank and Plan International - for organizing this successful first Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in Asia and the Pacific. This embodies the spirit of true partnership which is necessary in moving forward this important development agenda.

The World Bank Group considers CRVS and identification management systems as smart investments, the foundation for development and good governance, benefits all sectors, and critical to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

There are now several examples of countries that have linked national identification systems with birth registration. In Botswana, the Omang (“who are you?”) system has databases that interface with one another. One of the essential prerequisites for a person in Botswana to obtain an Omang card is the production of a birth certificate. Every birth that is registered is provided with a unique Omang identification number, and the same number is printed on the birth certificate. Similarly, the Omang database is updated as soon as a death is registered. This linkage has resulted in increased demand for birth certificates in the country. Indeed, the Omang system contributed a successful democratic elections last month in Botswana.

But despite these compelling reasons, identification and civil registration systems cover only a fraction of the population in low- and middle-income countries.  This makes it virtually impossible to accurately measure development progress in key areas, such as maternal and child mortality or financial inclusion.

The good news is that today we have the tools.  The wide availability of information and communication technologies -- including ubiquitous mobile devices and low-cost biometrics -- is making it possible for many countries to leapfrog to smarter systems that allow for more efficient public spending and can protect privacy.

It was gratifying for me to know that on Wednesday, the youth held a special session and presented their own call for action - for their voices to heard and to register every child including the hard-to-reach, vulnerable, and marginalized. Considering that some of the countries in this region have large young populations, engaging the youth is laudable. 


" The World Bank Group considers civil registration and vital statistics and identification management systems as smart investments, the foundation for development and good governance, benefits all sectors, and critical to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.  "
Image

Ulrich Zachau

World Bank Group's Country Director for Southeast Asia

The World Bank Group and WHO, in consultation with several agencies and countries represented in this conference, published the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Scaling Up Investment Plan 2015-2024 in May 2014. The estimated total cost of scaling up and sustaining CRVS systems in the 73 priority countries is USD $3.8 billion with an estimated US$2 billion global financing gap over ten years (2015-2024), or an average of about US$200 million financing gap per year for the 73 countries. The estimation of the financing gap excluded the much needed domestic resources for investment in CRVS.

Development partners, donors and civil society organizations should work closely with Governments in the next decade to achieve the CRVS declaration that the Ministers in the Asia and the Pacific present in this conference will jointly make after this session.

In this region, the World Bank Group is looking forward to building on a number of efforts underway with development partners, including the Government of Canada, WHO and UN Agencies, and the private sector. 

The World Bank Group has recently established a cross-sectoral Identification for Development group (ID4D) to bring global knowledge and expertise to bear across multiple sectors and countries to tackle this fundamental development challenge.

Welcome to this Ministerial panel session on “Moving forward: civil registration and identification systems as smart investments”. Today’s session will provide a platform to discuss how countries can effectively implement the Ministerial Declaration to ‘Get every one in the picture’ and the regional action framework for civil registration and vital statistics in Asia and the Pacific. In this regard, three key questions are how to get development partners to work together with countries, how do government’s hold themselves accountable, and how to mobilize additional international and national resources. 

The Governments of India, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Timor-Leste, who are represented in this panel, have all shown political commitment to improving CRVS. Non-Governmental organizations such as the World Vision have been instrumental in supporting a number of countries in this region to strengthen CRVS systems.

It is my great pleasure to hand the program over to our moderator, Ms. Gwen Robinson, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. She was previously with the Financial Times as a senior editor and foreign correspondent, from 1995 to 2013.

To Gwen and to our panelists, thank you for all for your leadership and we look forward to a great discussion.  


Api
Api