The ID2020 Alliance is a global partnership committed to improving lives through digital identity. This alliance of governments, NGOs and the private sector will work to ensure that the technology development is informed by the needs of countries and individuals and that policies and standards reflect the latest technological innovations. By coordinating funding for identity and channeling those funds towards high-impact projects, this alliance model enables diverse stakeholders - UN agencies, NGOs, governments, and enterprises - to pursue a coordinated approach and creates a pathway for efficient implementation at scale.
An Approach that is holistic, market-based and addresses the full scope and scale of the challenge
For digital identity to meet the needs of governments, international organizations, businesses and individuals alike, it must be:
- Personal: unique to you and only you
- Persistent: lives with you from life to death
- Portable: accessible anywhere you happen to be
- Private: only you can give permission to use or view data
To meet these criteria, an approach based on open standards and open API is critical, facilitating vendor neutrality, ensuring there’s room for continued innovation, and allowing an ecosystem to develop around a framework for technical interoperability. No government, country or organization can solve this challenge alone.
Meeting this global challenge requires both an examination of the technical architecture that supports interoperability across geographic and institutional borders, and a mechanism for coordination on non-technical topics. In particular, current funding made available for the implementation of identity projects worldwide often encourage siloed approaches, as illustrated in Malawi.
“Business as usual” will not be sufficient to improve coverage rates and create broad adoption of holistic identity management systems. It is unlikely that an expansion of current initiatives will be sufficient to bring about the required transformative impact. Rather, multi-sectoral coordination will be required to bridge fragmented programs and ensure digital identity standards that are applicable globally and from birth to death.
Solving At SCALE THrough Partnership
As a collaborative effort of global partners, the Alliance is solving for scale from day 1. This approach opens up opportunities to piggyback on the systems and processes that public and private organizations already have in place to reach people, better positioning those organizations to fulfill their individual mandates.
For example, immunization rates far exceed birth registration rates in many developing countries - offering an entry point for identity. Partnering with organizations (governments and NGOs) that provide immunizations could both increase identification coverage and enable partner organizations to improve their outreach to beneficiaries, thereby improving health outcomes.
Accenture, as a founding partner of the Alliance, is considering rolling out an interoperable, user-owned and controlled digital identity to their workforce, which numbers many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This would provide Accenture employees the benefits of digital identity, cut down on the high costs paid by the firm for background checks on Accenture employees sent to a new client site, and build momentum for digital identity to be recognized by a broadening sphere of actors.
In both instances, these piggyback opportunities represent virtuous cycles where the organizations, both public and private, are able to connect to the people they want to reach: their customers, their beneficiaries, their employees. And through forging that connection, individuals will have a means of identifying themselves that better serves them.
Guided by Best-Practices in International Development
This is not the first time that such a market failure has been identified and much can be learned from successful initiatives that have coordinated public and private sector efforts to address a global challenge. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, offers one example of how a similar alliance approach has accelerated global efforts to immunize children in developing countries, ultimately saving the lives of 14M children.
Gavi was officially launched at the World Economic Forum in 2000 at a time when multiple organizations were pursuing siloed approaches to immunization, leading to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the market for vaccines. The organization’s founding partners, including UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, developing and donor governments, and others, recognized that uncoordinated programs and unpredictable financing were hindering vaccination efforts and hypothesized that streamlining funding was a critical driver of a coordinated approach. As such, the alliance not only coordinates action on the ground, but achieves scale and impact by operating as a multi-stakeholder partnership around a single funding entity. The alliance raises a single fund to support global immunization efforts, then channels that funding into vaccination programs meeting criteria determined by alliance partners. The result has been coordinated programs, efficient use of funding and a large pooled market for vaccines that has driven down the cost of vaccinations for more than 880 million children worldwide.
Taking the Gavi model as a blueprint, the ID2020 Alliance will play a catalytic role in solving the current “market failure” and demonstrate added value by:
- Facilitating investments in repeat-use, holistic digital identity systems that reflect technological best-practices
- Creating a market for such digital identity systems, ultimately resulting in increased private-sector attention, support, and contributions
- Contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particularly, SDG Target 16.9
- Prioritizing the development of innovative models or approaches for delivery that can be scaled more broadly
- Providing a forum for cooperation and coordination, which is particularly important given the risks borne by any identity program
- Advocating for digital identity as a cornerstone of international development
- Driving transparency and efficiency through investments in monitoring and evaluation
- Driving measurement and reporting of the ID2020 objectives and associated digital identity related operational metrics
By providing sustainable financing for interoperable identity systems, this model aligns diverse incentives and facilities the adoption of identity that is truly personal, portable, persistent and private. And by bringing stakeholders together through a formal governance mechanism, the Alliance approach ensures the collaborative, iterative effort required to ensure that the best technological innovations are implemented in ways that are scalable, secure, and sustainable.