Two organisations poised to help developing countries build their own foundational identity initiatives today sealed their commitment signing an Memorandum of Understanding agreement.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is an intergovernmental worldwide agency tasked with improving resources, economic growth and prosperity within third countries, with identity agendas really important in order to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities. Pairing the UNDP with the Secure Identity Alliance (SIA), the composition of identity-related goals is formidable to encourage self-sufficiency of countries’ economies to fund robust, future-proof identity ecosystems for their citizens.

The partnership will concentrate on promoting open standards and interoperability between identity systems, nurturing a fair environment and preventing dependence on a single vendor or technology.

By joining forces, the organisations aim to foster innovation, seamlessly integrate digital tools, existing and new, and guarantee digital system access for everyone to identity systems, ensuring no one is left behind without proof of identity.

Haoliang Xu, Associate Administrator for UNDP commented that digital legal identity for every citizen is essential for the fulfilment of human rights and is a crucial tool in achieving multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as delivering legal identity and strengthening national capacities.

“Over the past few decades, many Member States haven’t been able to leverage the full potential of technology,” he said. “With this project, UNDP and SIA highlight the significance of open standards in achieving sustainable and cost-effective digital technologies around legal identity systems”.

Didier Trutt, Chairman of the SIA, said embracing open standards that the alliance has developed for years globally can empower governments to harness the full power of digital technologies, enabling socio-economic benefits.

“Interoperability not only levels the playing field but also fosters cost-effective solutions for the betterment of governments and society alike,” he said. “Through this new collaboration with UNDP, we hope to contribute to a future of inclusive access, boundless innovation, and brighter prospects for societies worldwide.”

UNDP’s Digital Governance Innovation and Transformation Programme (DGIT) helps drive online government services for the public through delivering digital and physical ID that enables proper voting systems to be implemented. Personal ID systems and mobile apps for citizens achieve better digital outcomes in support of sustainable development.

Digital identity systems also provide a better way to register and collect important data on people from birth up until point of death.

DGIT is also integrating new features in these systems, such as specific tools for legal, healthcare, and banking sectors. Each open-source system is interoperable, malleable and cost-efficient to fit countries’ requirements.

The SIA launched an open initiative in 2019, with the support of the Identity Industry and a Governmental Advisory Committee to develop a set of APIs (OSIA) to create interoperability amongst identity management system building blocks.