CGD Policy Blogs
Some 2.4 billion people lack widely-recognized forms of legal identity. Over 600 million are children whose births have not been registered. How can wider access to identity – now recognized for the first time as a development goal in SDG target 16.9 -- help to achieve the SDGs?
Imagine the panic and frustration you’d feel if you lost your passport or driver’s license. They are basic proofs of identity that we – in the developed world – readily use to access a huge range of services from getting on a plane, to opening a bank account, to proving our eligibility for education, to exercising our right to vote. Yet around 2 billion people – mainly in the developing world – have no legal form of identity. That includes some 650m children who have never been registered at birth.
Meeting the staggering but achievable needs of the SDG agenda requires everyone to make the best use of each dollar from every source. This means tracking with precision where, when and to whom has the money been disbursed and for what development end. It requires knowing precisely who the beneficiary was and being able to uniquely establish his/her identity.
Rural Lombok seems a million miles from traffic-jammed Jakarta. It’s also a considerable distance to the nearest town where marriages and births can be registered. And this isn’t only a problem in Lombok. UNICEF estimates around 30% of Indonesian under-5s are unregistered (around 8m children), the 7th highest proportion of any nation. Without birth certificates these little ones essentially do not legally exist. I was in Lombok recently to see how Indonesia is trying to address this problem.
Enrollment in India’s biometric-based universal ID program Aadhaar is approaching the remarkable count of 790 million and nearing saturation levels — 90 percent or more — in some states.
India has embarked on a program using biometric identification to enable a shift from blanket price-based energy subsidies to targeted compensation payments based on actual, individual energy purchases.
The post-2015 development agenda is being shaped as we speak. The United Nations has recently released a report that synthesizes the full range of inputs received from various stakeholders. These inputs, including ones from the World Bank Group, are a substantive contribution to the intergovernmental negotiations in the lead up to the September 2015 Summit that will officially launch the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.