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CGD’s work in technology and development focuses on the macroeconomic implications of technology change as well as technological applications for specific development challenges.
Technological advances are a driving force for development. But policy choices determine who benefits. CGD focuses on three key questions around innovation, growth, and inequality: How can governments use existing technologies to deliver services more effectively to citizens? How can international institutions help create and spread new technologies to tackle shared problems like climate change and pandemics? And how can policymakers ensure advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and communications bring shared benefits and not greater global inequality?
Nandan Nilekani is an Indian entrepreneur and Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the rank of Union Cabinet Minister. Prior to this post, Nilekani co-founded and served as CEO of Infosys, an India-based, multinational provider of business consulting, technology, engineering, and outsourcing services. In 2010, Foreign Policy magazine listed him as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in both 2006 and 2009. In 2006, he was awarded one of India’s highest civilian honors, the Padma Bhushan and was also named Businessman of the Year by Forbes Asia.
Nilekani’s lecture will focus on his experience with Aadhaar, the Unique ID (UID) system the Indian Government is in the process of building. Over 300 million people have been enrolled and the goal is to enroll 1.2 billion residents of India. UID uses multimodal biometrics to solve the most basic of development challenges – identity. It is primarily aimed at ensuring inclusive growth, strengthening equity by providing a form of identity to those in the marginalized sections of society, and enabling better delivery of services and effective governance. Over the next few years a large number of applications by public and private entities are expected to be developed, providing transformational benefits to residents of India.
Nilekani is featured speaker of CGD’s eighth annual Richard H. Sabot Lecture honoring the life and work of Richard “Dick” Sabot, a friend, co-author, and founding member of CGD's board of directors. CGD president Nancy Birdsall will host and serve as moderator for a discussion after the lecture.
This paper updates Working Paper 294. Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR) is a system of color-coded ratings for tropical forest conservation performance that can be implemented for local areas, countries, regions, and the entire pan-tropics.
The use of biometric identification technology is growing rapidly in the developing world. It offers the prospect of eliminating the "identity gap" between rich and poor countries, where birth registration lags and many citizens have no official identity. Biometrics now underpins a wide range of developmental applications, including salary payments, social transfers, health insurance, financial access and elections.
A recent CGD working paper, “Identification and Development: The Biometrics Revolution” by Alan Gelb and Julia Clark, analyzes 160 such programs across 72 countries, half of which have been supported by donors. Together these initiatives affect at least 1 billion people. Some have led to innovations in service delivery and greater inclusion. But there are also risks of exclusion, privacy concerns, and problems with effective implementation.
This event will bring together technical and development experts at the forefront of this new technology to discuss the role of identification in development, how biometrics are used in the field, what advances are likely in the future and how they might best be supported by donors, and what changes are needed to make the most of the biometrics revolution.
The “identity gap” is large, but it’s closing. Over the past 10 years, developing countries from Afghanistan to Zambia—and the donors that support them—have begun to focus on identity systems. Some have sought to create or extend national identification to cover large populations that previously could not exercise basic rights or access services due to a lack of official documentation. Others have reformed government and NGO programs by creating robust identification to improve quality, increase accessibility and eliminate fraud.
This paper surveys 160 cases where biometric identification has been used for economic, political, and social purposes in developing countries. One primary conclusion is that identification should be considered as a component of development policy, rather than being seen as just a cost on a program-by-program basis.