ID16.9 Podcast

ID16.9 podcast examines progress towards the realization of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 of providing legal identity for all people, including birth registration, by 2030.

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Saturday Nov 19, 2022

Zimbabwe is beginning to realize the national impact of low birth registration rates with only 49 percent of under-fives registered nationally in 2019. Without a birth certificate and subsequent ID credentials, a lifetime of missed opportunities can line up in front of a child and this scales up to big problems for the country. (page 40) Tafadzwa Mavudzi, a monitoring and evaluation specialist for the NGO Nutrition Action Zimbabwe, talks to the ID16.9 Podcast about her experiences around legal identity, professionally and personally. Mavudzi discusses how service access can be restricted directly, such as school attendance especially in urban areas, and indirectly such as healthcare when a lack of education means people do not earn enough to travel to or pay for health services. There are differing advantages and disadvantages in seeking registration for children in rural and urban areas, with the urban push and facilities gaining the upper hand. Children are affected in many ways by not having their births registered, such as being prevented from attending school, being barred from competitive sport and even struggling to prove they are minors if the victim of sexual violence. Mavudzi proposes solutions in terms of legal reform and referral pathways for helping those identified as unidentified by NGOs or civil society organizations. Find out more about the ID16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update  

Friday Nov 04, 2022

What’s happened to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 for legal identity for all by 2030? Has it been repurposed to support other goals?  And if so, who’s responsible? In this episode we’re in conversation with Tom Fisher, senior researcher at Privacy International, a human rights and surveillance advocacy organization based in London. The looseness of the goal and how it is measured has created something of a vacuum which has allowed governments, international organizations and the private sector to interpret the SDG in their own ways. Reports of negative impacts on people around the world have accompanied positive developments and progress towards the goal. Fisher discusses the response of civil society. Privacy International was one of more than 70 organizations and individuals to sign a joint letter calling on organizations such as the World Bank as wells as donor countries to “cease activities that promote harmful models of digital identification systems.” We plan to hear from the other side of the debate in an upcoming episode. Find out more about the ID 16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update  

Friday Oct 07, 2022

Technology and teamwork can help reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 of legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030. Digitech Development, a division of French firm Digitech, has developed a way to securely send birth notification details by SMS to the civil registry, allowing birth registration even when 2G connectivity is unavailable. The company began by scanning documents in French town halls in the 1990s. Digitech Development’s Margaux Audet explains how the technology is working in Côte d'Ivoire and how the firm was part of a consortium that carried out a mass ‘catch up’ exercise in the Democratic Republic of Congo which registered the births of 2.4 million primary school children who had not been registered following their births. Find out more about the ID 16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update

Friday Sep 23, 2022

Matching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 for legal identity for all by 2030, the identity-promoting organization ID4Africa calls on countries to mark 16/09 as International Identity Day or ID Day. It also calls on the UN to recognize the occasion. In this episode we talk to the authorities in Uganda which marked the day by trying new ways to reach people to register for birth certificates and the national ID. Uganda has been heavily criticized over the impact of low registration rates: people are denied health and welfare services. While government could remove the identity barriers to access, if it is to pursue registration, how will ID Day help? Faridah Nassozi and Edwin Tukamuhebwa of NIRA – Uganda’s National Identification and Registration Authority – discuss successes and challenges. Private sector companies state how they mark the day and what it means for them now and next: HID Global, Suprema ID and Tech5. Some see International Identity Day as becoming overly commercialized and a supportive tool for governments to implement exclusionary identity systems. We hear from Tom Fisher, Senior Researcher at Privacy International, on what other impacts the day can have, and also how a day to mark identity issues can have some positives. Find out more about the ID 16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update  

Thursday Sep 08, 2022

India’s ID system Aadhaar made huge progress by enrolling more than a billion people in just a few years. But at what cost? Civil society leader and documentary-maker Subhashish Panigrahi speaks to us about his film “Marginalized Aadhaar” and we discuss the cultural, political and technical issues which led to multiple layers of exclusion by the system, particularly for India’s poor. Privilege, caste, propaganda and education are all key considerations. Being able to advocate for oneself is all too often only for the wealthy. Panigrahi talks about exclusion via language and disability by a system tested on the privileged. India still does not have adequate data protections for its citizens personal information, but there are opportunities for the private sector, including the likes of Google and Meta. Clips from “Marginalized Aadhaar” by Subhashish Panigrahi licensed under Creative Commons BY 3.0. Watch on YouTube: Find out more about the ID16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update

Monday Aug 22, 2022

The private sector has a role to play in legal identity. Is this a good thing? Is it inevitable? We explore how private companies are involved in ID schemes around the world and how new open source, plug and play ID platforms give governments more control over that private sector involvement. But is the private sector also affecting or setting the agenda? ID4Africa, the main driver of identity ventures on the continent, is changing its mission far beyond legal identity. We look at private sector messaging on legal identity and its fusion with digital and biometric ID that was presented at the ID4Africa 2022 summit. Our Cameroonian reporter presents his home country as a case study for the impact on daily life of private sector contracts not delivering what they promised. Find out more about the ID16.9 Podcast and the importance of legal identity at Produced and hosted by Frank Hersey at Biometric Update

Tuesday Aug 02, 2022

Technology cannot fix the problem of a billion people not having legal identity. Not on its own. OpenCRVS is an open-source civil registration system that can be configured for a country in a week. Annina Wersun, its head of Community Development and Engagement, explains the daily issues getting in the way of birth registration and how the system can be used by a country to experiment and improve the way it presents birth registration. “Technology projects fail the majority of the time because of the people,” says Wersun as she explains how OpenCRVS is just a tool for tackling UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 for legal identity for all. For more about this podcast, visit

Tuesday Aug 02, 2022

“Dead people can cause a lot of trouble. Dead people can access pensions, dead people can inherit things,” says Niall McCann of the UNDP. Death registration is as important as birth registration for understanding a country and even political stability: “The one thing that dead people can't do is start a war, attack governments.” This deep dive with the UN’s former head of legal identity explores the issue of using biometrics in identity, how much control we should have over our identities, transgender rights to assert identity (and what happens when they die), the dangers of including religion or ethnicity, and how progress is going towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal of identity for all by 2030. And did they get their goals wrong? For more about this podcast, visit

Tuesday Aug 02, 2022

More than a billion people in the world have no legal identity – no way to prove who they are. The United Nations has pledged to fix this with Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 and 2030 is the deadline.  The UN’s outgoing person in charge of legal identity, Niall McCann from the UNDP, starts our exploration of the importance of ID and where we are on that SDG 16.9 target. And whether there a billion people with no identity: “If you're talking about people that are legally invisible, well then counting them is quite challenging” What is legal identity? Can you have legal identity without birth registration? What is ‘proving yourself before the law’? Why are you so vulnerable if you don’t have ID? We also hear a sneak preview from some of the other larger organizations we’ll have on the show in future episodes: the World Bank and UNICEF. For more about this podcast, visit

Monday Aug 01, 2022

One in eight people have no formal identity, no way to prove who they are. Find out the devastating impact this can have on everything in life – from accessing vaccinations and education to finding formal employment and even inheriting. The UN is trying to solve the problem. Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 aims to ensure everyone in the world has a legal identity by 2030. We find out how that’s going and how we might meet the goal. Hear from tech companies offering solutions, the big players like the UNDP and World Bank pouring in billions, down to individuals among the billion without ID, explaining their struggles in countries rich and poor. For more about our journey, visit


About the ID169 Podcast

Why are there a billion people with no ID? How do you get through life without having a legal identity? And what’s anybody doing about it?

The United Nations promised to fix this. In 2015 it made a legal identity for all one of its Sustainable Development Goals, number 16.9. The deadline is 2030.

Without an ID you can be blocked from going to school, getting health care, vaccinations, voting, finding formal employment and even from marrying and inheriting.

We’re halfway to 2030, but what’s the progress?

Join us as we try to find out. We’ll build a picture of what it’s like to live without legal identity, what a legal identity actually is, and the projects and technologies hoping to speed up registration.

We hear from the big players like the UNDP and World Bank, national heads of identity and civil registration, technology companies and individuals at the sharp end around the world.

This podcast is from the team at Biometric Update where we cover digital identity and biometrics, which is great, but over a billion people have no ID at all so we’re exploring SDG 16.9 here.

The producer and host is Frank Hersey, previously a radio reporter for the BBC and RFI. He’ll try to make sure every episode is accessible to everyone.

For more about our journey, visit

Or to see the rest of our reporting, visit

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