Syndicate content


Identification for Development: Its Potential for Empowering Women and Girls

Lucia Hanmer's picture
Widespread lack of official identification (ID) in developing countries disproportionately affects women and girls, who face more and higher barriers to obtaining IDs. As economists at the World Bank Group, even we hadn’t immediately appreciated the enormous deprivations facing girls and women who lack official identification. These barriers include: restrictions on women’s freedom to travel outside the home or community; distance; financial cost; time constraints; illiteracy; lack of information and lack of awareness; and, lack of support or opposition from other family members.  
Missing birth registration certificates, often needed to obtain an ID, and other missing documentation hamper numerous daily activities: access to services such as social protection, education, and health care; entitlement claims; access to financial institutions, credit, and other economic opportunities and enablers, including many jobs; family and property transactions requiring certified individual legal status; and the exercise of basic citizenship rights, such as voting and participating in politics.
Among the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 16 aims to "promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels." To track progress toward meeting this goal, SDG16.9 sets the following target: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration. Sharply scaling up efforts to meet this goal is especially vital to achieving Goal 5, "Achieve Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls."
Jobs and assets are key levers of change for women in their communities and economies. Goal 5 aims to fulfill women’s equal rights to economic resources including access to and ownership and control over land and other forms of property, and inheritance. But this will require vastly more women to possess official proof of identity.


The World Citizen: Transforming Statelessness into Global Citizenship

Mariana Dahan's picture

Statelessness is now a systemic challenge affecting over 10 million people in the world, with millions of children placed in vulnerable situations. Experts also note that the statistics on the number of stateless persons have to be revised to account for the intensified cross-border migration and massive refugee influx.

In the last couple of years alone, some fifty thousand Syrian refugee children have been born abroad and over 70 per cent of them have not been registered at birth, making it almost impossible for them to prove their citizenship later on. The issue is of growing concern. Development agencies worry that in countries hosting the 20 largest stateless populations, at least 70,000 stateless children are born each year. What sense and, more importantly, proof of identity will they have?

Using Satellite Technologies to Protect African Farmers from Climate Shocks

Keiko Saito's picture
Also available in: 日本語
A farmer sorts tomatoes in Ethiopia. Photo: Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank

Farming can be precarious. This is especially true if you are poor and living in an area susceptible to climate shocks. In sub-Saharan Africa[1], with approximately 1 billion inhabitants, agriculture still accounts for roughly 64% of employment. Moreover, more than 95% of its arable land relies solely on rainfall, without the luxury of irrigation[2]. As a result, climate shocks such as drought frequently cause crop loss and livestock death across the continent, sending large parts of the population into turmoil. A changing climate is expected to make the situation worse.

What is not counted doesn’t count: measuring progress towards the global target on universal identity

Mariana Dahan's picture

Less than a month after the adoption of the new global development agenda – Agenda 2030 – the question “A Legal Identity for All by 2030: What Will It Take?” brought together 32 development practitioners and scholars for a three-day workshop to discuss an answer to this question, and how progress towards a legal identity for all could be measured. The workshop was co-hosted by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) based in New York and the Civil Registration Centre for Development (CRC4D) of The Hague, The Netherlands.

Digital Dividends and the SDGs – following the Estonian example

Oleg Petrov's picture
Photo: World Bank Group

With the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the 70th United Nations General Assembly, it has been widely acknowledged that digital technology, the data revolution and the spread of broadband coverage will play a central role in accelerating data collection and measuring progress on the SDGs, as well as enabling governments to improve their decision-making capabilities, and delivery of critical services.In other words, digital innovation will be critical for achieving the SDGs. And if countries are focused on following a sustainable development path, they will have to get serious about reaping the digital dividends from the use of information and communication technologies.

The good news is that this is already happening. Digital technologies and data analytics, for example, have been used effectively to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa; and mobile phone networks have brought modern banking to unserved populations throughout the developing world.

These new technologies are empowering people – most notably the rapidly growing youth population – and creating new opportunities for alleviating poverty and boosting economic growth.
It is in this context that a couple of weeks ago we hosted at World Bank headquarters a one-day event titled “Estonia ICT Day –Smart Digital Solutions for Sustainable Development”. 

Three ways in which Right to Information could be Cyber Security's Best Friend

Victoria L. Lemieux's picture

Last week, I attended Borderless Cyber Forum 2015, hosted by the World Bank and organized in collaboration with OASIS, a non-profit, international consortium that creates interoperable industry specifications based on public standards.  This week, the UN adopted Goal 16, Target 10, of the Sustainable Development Goals on public access to information.  Could these two weeks be more contrasting?  Both security and public access to information are integral to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies in support of poverty reduction and economic development. 
Very often, public access to information and Cyber Security are portrayed in opposition to one another. Right to Information laws – also called Freedom of Information and Access to Information laws, which are now in place in over 100 countries worldwide – provide legislative guarantees of public access to information. Frequently, they are seen as being only about opening up government information to citizens. In reality the picture is more nuanced, and there are ways in which Right to Information laws can be seen as an effective means of supporting Cyber Security.

Sustainable Development Goals and Open Data

Joel Gurin's picture
Sustainable Development Goals. Source:

The United Nations (UN) has developed a set of action-oriented goals to achieve global sustainable development by 2030. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed by an Open Working Group of 30 member states over a two-year process. They are designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

To help meet the goals, UN member states can draw on Open Data from governments that is, data that is freely available online for anyone to use and republish for any purpose. This kind of data is essential both to help achieve the SDGs and to measure progress in meeting them.
Achieving the SDGs
Open Data can help achieve the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics. These insights can inform national priorities and help determine the most effective paths for action on national issues. Open Data is a key resource for:
  • Fostering economic growth and job creation. Open Data can help launch new businesses, optimizing existing companies’ operations, and improve the climate for foreign investment. It can also make the job market more efficient and serve as a resource in training for critical technological job skills.

Heading to #UNGA? Read how to make the #SDGs a success

Mariana Dahan's picture

As you are on your way to UN General Assembly for the official launch of the SDGs, read this: approximately 2.4 billion people in the world today lack official identification (ID), including children up to the age of 14 whose birth has never been registered and many women in poor rural areas of Africa and Asia.

Being able to prove one’s identity is more than a convenience; it is based on fundamental human rights and extending it to the disenfranchised is also instrumental in achieving many of the other SDGs. SDG 16.9 aims to “provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030,” and represents the first time that documenting identity has been officially stated as a global goal. The international community should join forces to achieve this goal, as attaining it will also be a key enabler of many other SDGs.

Can we shift waste to value through 3D printing in Tanzania?

Cecilia Paradi-Guilford's picture
A waste collection site in Dar es Salaam, 
Tanzania. Photo: Cecilia Paradi-Guilford
Plastic waste, in particular PET, which is typically found in soda bottles, is becoming abundant in African cities. In Dar es Salaam, one of the most rapidly urbanizing cities in Africa, BORDA found that about 400 tons of plastic waste per day remains uncollected or unrecycled.  Although about 98 percent of the solid waste generated per day can be recycled or composted, 90 percent is disposed in dumpsites.
At the same time, the recycling industry has started to grow because of new initiatives, community organizations and private companies. There are a few organizations that repurpose waste into arts and crafts, tools or apply it as a source of energy – such as WasteDar. However, the majority collect or purchase plastic waste from collectors, primarily with a view to export, rather than recycle or reuse locally.
Socially and environmentally, waste management is one of the biggest challenges for an increasingly urbanized world. Waste pickers can earn as little as US$1-2 a day in dangerous conditions with little opportunity for advancement. They make up some of the most disadvantaged communities living in deep poverty.

Through a new market for sorted waste materials, these communities may access higher income generation opportunities in a sustainable manner. This presents an opportunity to explore turning this waste into value more close to home.

Joining forces to make IDs accessible to all

Mariana Dahan's picture

​Being able to prove one’s identity is more than a convenience; it is based on fundamental human rights.

​Identification (ID) is indispensable for ensuring access for individuals to educational opportunities, financial services, health and social welfare benefits, economic development, as well as allowing electoral participation for citizens.

​Yet in the developing world, more than two billion people lack an official ID. The problem disproportionately affects children and women, from poor rural areas in Africa and Asia.
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda highlights the role of robust identification systems and their importance to development — specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets. Although there is no one model for providing legal identity, this SDG would encourage states provide people with free or low-cost access to widely accepted, robust identity credentials.
Regardless of the modalities to achieve it, unique identification — together with its associated rights — is becoming a priority for governments around the world. The international community should join forces to support this goal.