Earth System Governance 2019

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


Individuals living in the Global North typically overlook the challenge of identification for participation in public life. However, proof of identity remains a significant challenge for many in the Digital Age. It is estimated that 1 billion people on the planet face challenges proving their identity. For those, it is virtually impossible to access healthcare services, education, as well as financial and mobile services. This issue hampering development in many regions increasingly receives attention as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 is dedicated to the subject. By 2030 legal identity should be provided for all, including registration at birth. Accordingly, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum have set up initiatives to work on ‘good’ digital identities. Many hope that the use of digital technologies including the use of biometrics and distributed ledger-technology (e.g. Blockchain, Ethereum) could help in addressing this challenge. In a report from December 2018 the WEF presented research estimating that by 2022 150 million people will have ‘blockchain-based’ digital identities. India has rolled out the ‘Aadhaar’ identification system over the last decade - which is using biometrics almost excessively – for more than 90 percent (more than 1.2 billion enrolled users) of its population by the end of January 2019. While the advent of new digital technologies creates great opportunity in this field on the one hand, significant challenges and risks arise on the other. First, the introduction of increasingly autonomous systems on large scale in very short timeframes produces a setting in which ‘Code is Law’, replacing existing rights and institutional safeguards. Such development potentially enables bias and discrimination which is ‘embedded’ in the new digital infrastructure. Significant disruption of existing governance models might be the consequence. Secondly, human rights such as individual privacy need more profound understanding to successfully transition to the Digital Age. This contribution will explore these aspects by presenting use cases employing either Blockchain (communities in Netherlands, Switzerland) or biometrics (Aadhaar India) to provide formal identification, and conclude with perspectives for earth system governance and human dignity in the Digital Age.
EvenementstitelEarth System Governance 2019: Towards sustainability and justice
LocatieOaxaca, Mexico
Mate van erkenningInternational