Principles for Design & Development


The Principles for Digital Development are “living” guidelines that can help development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs. They are written by and for international development donors, multilateral organizations, and implementing partners, and they are freely available for use by all. The Principles are intended to serve as guidance rather than edict, and to be updated and refined over time.

The Principles find their roots in the efforts of individuals, development organizations, and donors alike who have called for a more concerted effort by donors and implementing partners to institutionalize the many hard lessons learned in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in development projects.

Donor and multilateral organizations have been discussing how to surface and spread best practice in the use of ICT tools as part of development programming for at least a decade. These discussions culminated in the UNICEF Innovation Principles of 2009, the Greentree Principles of 2010, and the UK Design Principles, among others.

The Principles for Digital Development draw from these processes, and are the result of consultation with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Omidiyar Foundation, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Global Pulse, the UN Fund for Population Assistance (UNFPA), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN Women, the World Bank, the World Food Program (WFP), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and the World Health Organization (WHO).


This initiative is led by the Digital Development Principles Working Group with representation from a variety of donors, non-governmental organizations, companies and individuals working in international development. Please submit any inquiries to

Join Us

  • Join the discussion and learn about upcoming events on the Principles Working Group listserv.
  • Read and comment on highlights of community discussions about each of the Principles by clicking on the “Community Discussion” resource list by each Principle.
  • Contact us  to submit a guest blog post, a case study, a tool, or an approach that you are taking to implement the Principles.
  • Organize an event to discuss the Principles, and share your experience.
  • Join the conversation on Twitter using #DigitalPrinciples.

Digital Principles