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CGD presentation discusses how biometrics can help achieve development goals


A panel presentation at Center for Global Development discussed the advantages of implementing biometric technology to help identify the millions of people without legal identity and achieve development goals, according to the Center for Global Development.

Mahmood Mohieldin, corporate secretary and president’s special envoy to the post-2015 process at the World Bank, emphasized how the old “village” identification model where everyone knows everyone is no longer adequate for mobile populations, advanced economies, and governments tasked with delivering services fast and efficiently.

Mohieldin said that achieving wider access to legal identity is now a key sustainable development goal in SDG Target 16.9, which requires states to “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”.

In their paper “The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda“, Alan Gelb of the Center and Mariana Dahan of the World Bank discuss how at least 10 SDG targets require accurate identification, including access to social protection, disaster relief, financial access and the ability to register property.

The presentation pointed out that over 80 countries have already introduced new identity programs or are updating existing ones, including India, whose Aadhaar ID program is supported by advanced biometric registration and authentication systems.

Poverty and gender pose as huge challenges to identification in many developing countries. For instance, a national ID may be used for the purpose of voting or accessing health services in some countries, while in others, people need to apply for individual pieces of identification to access different services.

Development partners are also looking to strengthen cooperation within and across countries. The World Bank’s recent initiative, ID4D, is working to implement a more strategic approach towards strengthening registration and identification systems as well as ensuring that they contribute to more effective development policies and programs.

Tony Pipa, the US Special Coordinator for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, said that identification should be free, easy and convenient to obtain.

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