Lundi 22 Avril 2019  

N°124 - Quatrième trimestre 2018

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  M. / Mr Edouard Dayan

The postal sector: a unique asset for development

By Mr Edouard Dayan, Director General of the Universal Postal Union


The world in which the Universal Postal Union and the postal sector are evolving is undergoing turbulent change. Both a witness of and participant in these changes, they have constantly had to adapt to the larger movements of history, to the development of new modes of transport and communication and to the world’s geopolitical landscape. When they created the UPU in 1874, the founding Member States confirmed the global dimension of postal activity. This context has changed dramatically since then as a result of several far-reaching events.


The postal sector in a changing environment

First of all, the internationalization of trade, capital flows and economic migration has established a worldwide inter-relationship of economies, peoples and cultures. The rapid development of new communication technologies and information networks and the improvement of transport systems have removed the constraints of borders and time in international commerce. Finally, with the lowering of customs barriers to stimulate trade, the creation of the World Trade Organization and the liberalization of the services sector, globalization had taken on an entirely new dimension. It is in this global context that the UPU and the postal sector must now move forward.

In such a changing environment, postal services have a key role to play as an agent of economic development and social and territorial cohesion, and as a means of ensuring a more sensible and controlled globalization process.

Representing the largest physical distribution network and largest employer in many countries, the postal sector has a formative role to play. By linking all points within a country, even the most remote, it helps to open up distant rural areas and thus facilitate their development. The postal sector today employs more than five million employees working in nearly 700,000 outlets worldwide, with certainly as many employed by supporting industries, and each year the sector handles and delivers 425 billion items to destinations around the world.

With profound changes taking place, there is a growing need for regulation. Many governments are becoming aware of the need to reform their postal sector, and the framework in which it is evolving, by clearly defining its role and responsibilities and finding ways of financing universal service. This is one of the priorities of the postal strategy adopted by the Universal Postal Congress, held in Bucharest, Romania, in September and October 2004.

As an intergovernmental organization bringing together the governments of 190 member countries, the UPU has set for itself two main missions: The first is to stimulate the lasting development of efficient and accessible universal postal services of quality. This is a veritable right of communication, a worldwide public good and a tool for the development and regulation of postal globalization. The second is to promote development cooperation, without which the single postal territory – a truly global communication network – could not be a viable and effective entity working for the benefit of everyone: governments, businesses and individuals alike.


The World Postal Strategy: a road map

The UPU has always been able to adapt to, and at times anticipate, the major changes and upheavals that have taken place. In this connection, important steps were taken at past Congresses. The decisions taken by member countries at the Bucharest Congress illustrate the UPU’s ability to adapt to change while remaining true to its basic missions.

That Congress adopted a world postal strategy which set down the UPU’s principal objectives for the next four years. It is a road map, showing the postal sector the way to greater clarity and greater effectiveness in our actions.

At the heart of this world strategy are the provision of a universal service, quality of service and the postal network, market development and responses to customer needs, the need for postal structural reform and lasting development of postal services, and finally cooperation among all sector stakeholders. To implement this strategy, which is the primary task of its newly elected bodies, the UPU is setting a course that resolutely points towards the future.


Efficiency, innovation, unity, openness

The UPU and the postal sector can bring multilateral responses to the many challenges facing us. We must all work together to act in the service of the world community. To that end, the Universal Postal Union will have to pursue its commitment through unity, efficiency, innovation and openness. The UPU must be effective in its activities and missions for the benefit of all its members, but also in the services it provides to them.

The UPU must also be innovative as a major player in the information society, capable of anticipating developments in the sector and embracing new technology; I hope that the forthcoming World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis will provide an opportunity to move further down this path. Within the context of today’s information society, this is a unique asset for development. Postal services are at the crossroads where physical, digital and financial networks come together. The postal sector has the ability to combine these three networks, which form the basic elements for successful e-commerce and to help reduce the world’s digital divide.

The UPU must be united, for we cannot accept a two-speed postal world. Postal services represent an essential infrastructure and an efficient postal network benefits everyone. Development cooperation has an essential role to play in benefiting the postal sector and turning economies towards growth. Congress also provided an opportunity to strengthen the ways in which the UPU promotes solidarity. The Quality of Service Fund, an innovative international mechanism has so far made it possible to finance, through a fund maintained by industrialized countries, more than 250 projects for improving quality of service in developing countries. The fund has been renewed and now has a distribution mechanism that is more favourable to the least developed countries.

The UPU must be open to all stakeholders in the world postal sector. We must show that we are able to integrate all aspects of postal activity by adapting our organization and our means. The UPU is the only body capable of bringing together all postal sector players for the purpose of responding effectively to common challenges. In Bucharest, member countries decided to set up the Consultative Committee, which represents the interests of the wider international postal sector, and provides a framework for effective dialogue between postal industry stakeholders. It consists of non-governmental organizations representing customers, delivery service providers, workers’ organizations, suppliers of goods and services to the postal sector and other organizations that have an interest in international postal services, including direct marketers, private operators, international mailers and printers. The purpose of this body is to enable representatives of the private sector, industry, consumers, customers and employees to participate in UPU activities.


At the heart of international cooperation

Finally, the UPU must be open to external shareholders, but also to the international community through closer relations with other organizations. The UPU already maintains close relations with numerous organizations in areas of common interest. These relations should be strengthened and broadened. Our Union, an intergovernmental organization and an integral part of the UN system, must play its full role in the field of international cooperation. Today, more than ever, the UPU must enter into a true international partnership for development.

The UPU is entering a crucial period of its history. Accomplishing its missions for the benefit of its members and the international community as a whole should always be its number one priority. The organization will pursue this priority with determination and resolve in a spirit of dialogue and openness.
  In the words of Kofi Annan, I feel that « if the world community is to prosper, it must have common rules and common objectives ». Through its missions and its actions, the Universal Postal Union is pursuing goals that are essential to its efforts to build a more just society, one that respects diversity and creates wealth.
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