UPU: we are open to dialogue

UPU: we are open to dialogue

The Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bishar A. Hussein, used his opening address at the UPU’s High Level Forum yesterday on wider postal sector engagement to announce the UN specialised agency was open to change.

He told participants from the private sector, “For years, we have kept you out of [the UPU] building.”

Mr Hussein issued a call to action: “Help us choose a path to a better future, and by doing so, enable us to adapt to the 21st Century’s formidable landscape and be more responsive to the needs of the wider postal stakeholders.”

The Director General said the postal sector faced radical and profound changes in ways that he believed few in the industry had experienced in UPU’s 145-year history. Liberalisation, privatisation and the tremendous surge in e-commerce, he said, are transforming the sector and introducing a range of new players involved in the supply chain and final delivery.

He said the UPU needed to produce a blueprint for drawing these new postal players, while maintaining the duty to provide a postal service to everyone on this planet (known as the Universal Service Obligation or USO). Mr Hussein reiterated the need for the postal sector to be “competitive, innovative and prosperous.”

“We are open to dialogue. This forum is a key milestone in our history, and I am here today to listen, to take note and to benefit from your experiences,” he told the audience of representatives from governments, regulators, designated operators, the private sector, civil society and international organisations.

The UPU has long recognised the need for change. In 2004, the UPU created a consultative committee with representatives of the wider postal sector. However, the UPU Chief said there was an urgent need to accelerate the process.

He said a Task Force had been set up to propose the way forward and outline steps enabling the UPU to deepen private sector engagement. Task Force recommendations are to be fed into the strategy developed for the next four years of the UPU’s business cycle. The strategy is to be agreed by member countries at the 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire, 10-28 August.

Walter Trezek, Chair of the UPU Consultative Committee, the body responsible for wider sector engagement, also spoke during the opening session. He said the UPU was finding solutions for the moving forward and said the postal organisation stood for both universality and unity.

Speakers at the one-day event in Berne, Switzerland, included Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, Mamadou Sanogo, Minister of Digital Economy and Post, Côte d’Ivoire, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organisations, and Ricardo Trevino, Deputy Secretary General, World Customs Organisation.

Other speakers were drawn from the UPU’s partner organisations such as the International Air Transport Association, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

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