Recent advances in the scope and sophistication of identification systems could have far-reaching consequences for development. At their best, ID systems can advance the Sustainable Development Goals by helping to realize individual rights, build state capacity, improve accountability, and expand opportunity. But their success is not guaranteed. At their worst, ID systems can exclude vulnerable groups, support institutionalized discrimination, and facilitate the exploitation of personal data.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are common features that ID systems should share if they are to support development. Principles that speak to inclusion, robust and responsive design, and accountable governance of ID systems, and good-practice examples from countries at the forefront of ID management, provide a list of areas that all stakeholders should consider as ID programs move forward.

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