An influential group of experts has met to discuss how biometric technology can help developing countries achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related to identity and inclusion.
Specifically, biometric ID has been cited as means to reach Target 16.9, which requires states to “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”.
During the meeting between officials from the World Bank, the US and Indian governments and the Center for Global Development, attendees noted that poverty and gender remain critical barriers to identification in many developing countries.
Mahmood Mohieldin, the World Bank President’s Special Envoy to the Post-2015 Process, said the old model of “village” identification where everybody knows you and you know everybody is no longer adequate for mobile populations, more sophisticated economies.
As noted in a blog post on the discussion by the Center For Global Development’s Alan Gelb and Anna Diofasi, a working paper co-authored by Gelb of the Center and Mariana Dahan of the World Bank found that at least 10 SDG targets require accurate identification, including access to social protection, disaster relief, financial access and the ability to register property.
There are also risks in the process: Tony Pipa, the US Special Coordinator for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, pointed out the dangers of data breaches. He added that one priority is to ensure that identification does not become a barrier to access to services by the poor – in addition to being universal.