Reflections and the Year Ahead

As 2017 draws to a close, we want to wish you a happy holiday season and share with you the progress the ID2020 Alliance has made over these last 12 months and some of what’s in store for 2018.

In a year marked by transition from conceptualization and strategy development to implementation and partnership development, there have been almost daily inflection points along the way. Those that stand out are sometimes small - the last-minute, all-hands badge assembly before the 2017 ID2020 Summit, the move to an office of our own - but stepping back from these moments, how far we’ve come is stunning.

In early 2017, ID2020 was a deeply-considered vision for how individuals could be empowered with a secure, portable digital identity and a respected voice in the nascent conversation about digital identity in humanitarian contexts. As we begin 2018, the ID2020 Alliance is helping to drive this growing conversation, and has assembled a group of key, committed partners to move from vision to implementation.

While we are as excited as ever for the work ahead of us in 2018, we’d like to first reflect on a few moments that particularly stand out from this year.

We began the year at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where Microsoft hosted a breakfast on our behalf. The breakfast brought together like-minded executives to discuss the opportunity posed by digital identity, chart a roadmap for each organization to support ID2020 in its work, and share commitments. It was also here that we officially published the ID2020 Concept Note, which articulates our mission to improve lives through digital identity and our strategic plan to realize our vision.

It was amazing to watch these commitments quickly unfold. Just months later, I walked into The Dock, Accenture’s innovation hub in Dublin, to meet the 15-person team that Accenture had assembled to work on ID2020 projects. Each person was - and remains - deeply invested in ID2020’s success and it has been humbling to see the vision spread through each of our partner organizations.

The commitments made by each of our partners have been generous - and indeed, they’re fundamental to our vision for the ID2020 Alliance, which we launched formally at the second ID2020 Summit in June. The event, held at the United Nations, was a testament to partnership. PwC provided invaluable hands-on support, Microsoft and the UN Office of Information Communication Technology joined as co-conveners, and UNHCR, OCHA, UNDP and Accenture all provided significant support. At the Summit, Accenture also announced a $1M contribution to the ID2020 Alliance, a watershed moment for the organization.

We believe that an alliance approach is critical to align the diverse incentives of various stakeholders in the identity ecosystem and ensure that a digital identity is broadly recognized by the various organizations with which an individual may interact. Furthermore, by bringing together public and private sector partners to jointly address technical and non-technical questions, this approach ensures that the technology developed is relevant, secure and sustainable.

The Summit featured a lineup of impressive speakers, including Ms. Atefeh Riazi, Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Information Technology Officer for the United Nations, who shared a poignant personal story that highlighted a sentiment voiced broadly by participants: the fundamental importance of identity and the necessity of individuals having ownership and control over their identities. Dr. Pramod Varma, the Chief Architect of Aadhaar, drove a focus on technical interoperability and the need for an open standards-based approach.

In the months pre- and post-Summit, we conducted a thorough review of our governance structure to ensure alignment with best practices from comparable public-private partnerships. The ID2020 Board voted to approve the proposed changes in November, providing a solid framework for partner engagement. With this decision, the Board will grow to eleven seats - five independent Board members, two representatives from private sector Founding Partners, two representatives from public sector Founding Partners, one seat for a noted privacy expert, and one seat for a donor. We are thrilled to welcome David Treat (Accenture), Seth Berkley (Gavi), and Blythe Masters (independent) to the Board alongside our current independent Board members: John Edge, Elana Broitman, Chip Dempsey, and Oliver Bussmann. And we owe Tariq Malik, who will be moving from the Board to an advisory role, a tremendous thanks for his ongoing support.

The Board and ID2020 Secretariat will work alongside four Advisory Committees: Technical, Program Delivery, Ecosystem Development, and Ethics and Risks. These Advisory Committees will be supported by time-limited, deliverables-based Working Groups. It is our intention that this model will facilitate and encourage broad participation in the ID2020 Alliance.

As an organization, we continue to grow through fundraising and core team growth. ID2020 began 2017 as a very lean operation - just a one-woman show. As we enter 2018, and through the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation, we now are a team of three, with plans to grow to six in the coming months.

Finally, the workshop we co-hosted with UNHCR in Munich last month was a key inflection point in the move from pilot concept to implementation, and laid the groundwork for our work in 2018. The workshop brought together key stakeholders from the public and private sectors for two days to discuss and strategize potential pilot projects. The workshop ended with a commitment from UNHCR to move forward with planning for a joint pilot project in 2018, as well as an invitation to other workshop participants - governments, companies, and agencies alike - to join in.

We will be working with UNHCR, Gavi, WFP and others in early 2018 to finalize the details of these pilots and move quickly into launch and implementation. We believe that multiple concurrent pilots will demonstrate technical interoperability, while yielding comparative learnings to help assess multiple pathways for implementation. These shared learnings will also inform adherence to best-practices for data and privacy protection.

And we look forward to seeing many of you back in Davos in January, where we will be participating in an Accenture “Tech for Good” panel, as well as hosting an ID2020 event with Microsoft.

We are as convinced as ever that we have the team, partners and framework in place for a multisectoral approach that empowers individuals with a portable, private digital identity. 2018 is the year that we begin to implement this vision.

ID2020 AdminBlog