United Nations Chief Executive Board meeting

Address by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Vienna, Austria, 27 April 2016


The United Nations Secretary General,

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to commend the Secretary General for his great leadership, skills and focus in bringing about the  successful adoption of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly recently. I also wish to acknowledge the collective effort we have made in developing this ambitious agenda together.

Dear colleagues, as it was said, the true test of the 2030 Agenda lies in its implementations.  We  should support the call by the Secretary General and make the UN system work more efficiently and effectively to support member states to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their own national priorities.

In this regard please allow me to share with you how we at the Universal Postal Union are trying to incorporate the SDGs framework into the future strategy and activities of the union.

First, the UPU membership recognizes and fully supports the 2030  SDGs of the UN. We have conducted a comprehensive analysis on the positive role that the world's postal network can play in the implementation of the  SDGs, and integrated them into  the strategic plans for our 2017 2020 cycle.

We believe the Post can play a key role in the achievement of the SDGs at country, regional and international levels. Its diverse network and presence makes the post one of the most strategic vehicles that can drive the SDG agenda.

The UPU has identified seven of the 17 SDGs in which it can take active role and incorporated them into the Unions future strategy.

In the next World Postal Strategy that will be adopted at our Congress next year, we have picked three goals and 15 programmes, which have direct links to some of the UN SDGs.

To support these programmes, the UPU development policy for 2017-2020 has come up with ways of mobilizing resources for the identified related activities. For example, we have conducted a study for a programme on electrification and connectivity for 25,000 African postal outlets to support the  financial inclusivity agenda for millions of rural population in Africa. In September, the African Union held a donors' conference attended by African ministers responsible for the Post to address the funding for this project.

The aim of this project is to upgrade the postal infrastructure in Africa so as  to enable the provision of essential social and commercial services to the rural population that is often excluded from the development agendas.

We aim to connected 25,000 post offices, which today serve nearly 80 per cent of the African population. This will be a major boost for the social, digital, financial and economic inclusion agenda of the SDG. The success of the initiative will have remarkable impact on SMEs , on trade facilitation, education, basic health, agriculture, science and innovation, women, and displaced people. It will further reduce remittance costs and on eradicating poverty, want and deprivation as well as have enormous impact on impact on sustainable environmental and climate change.

We are seeking 500 million USD to make this happen and are convinced this will be a worthy investment. I need to find that money and I am looking for solutions from this assembly. I am sure the same story can be replicated in all other regions once we get this off the ground.

Dear Colleagues, the world's postal network is also a ready vehicle for implementation of some Financial Inclusion programme (SDGs 1,2,3,5,8,9,10). Posts are already providing financial inclusion by banking more than 1.5 billion people worldwide in rural and marginal areas. In total, we are serving twice as many SMEs and women as all the financial institutions combined.

With a vast network  of 640,000 postal outlets, including a mandatory universal postal services in 146 countries, the UPU provides almost the only available delivery channel for various social, governmental and economic services in many parts of the world.

In addressing Goal 17,  which deals with  developing export for developing and least developed countries, we have in Brazil, for example, more than 10,000 MSMEs that are today able to export their products internationally through "Exporta Facil".  This is a one-stop-shop for export through the post offices, which is now being replicated in many other UPU member countries.

Being a small UN technical agency, UPU will need a lot of support both from other UN bodies as well as through bilateral and multilateral engagements to achieve these goals.

Already, UPU is cooperating with a number of UN organizations and other international partners in this endeavour. We have ongoing projects with the International Organization for Migration to establish a remittance corridor for the immigrant  Burundi diaspora. We have raised 1.2 million USD and will soon launch the programme, which will  provide efficient remittance services at an affordable price of 3-5% commission.

We also have other ongoing initiatives with ITU, IFAD, European Union, AU, UN women, UNCTAD, IATA , WCO, etc. I am signing a cooperation agreement with WMO today and I hope to start new initiative with UNICEF, UNHCR and UNDP in the very near future.

In conclusion, I would like to appeal to all of us to work together and deliver the SDGs as one UN family.

Thank you for your audience.