Looking back at 2019

16.01.2020 - The UPU’s 145th year was one full of celebration, but also hard work. In addition to celebrating the milestone anniversary, the organization coordinated several successful high-level, strategic events throughout the course of 2019 – the outcomes of which will help set the course of the Union’s future.

Regional Strategy Forums

25-25 April 2019, Bangkok, Thailand

14-15 June 2019, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

24-25 June 2019, Havana, Cuba

9-10 July 2019, Minsk, Belarus

23-24 July 2019, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

12-13 August 2019, San José, Costa Rica

With the next regular Congress planned for 2020, 2019 was a critical year for collecting feedback on the draft Abidjan World Postal Strategy for 2021-2024. Bearing this in mind, the UPU’s leadership and its strategy team travelled to six regions – Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe & CIS, the Arab region and Latin America – to seek the input of member countries. 

The forums brought together representatives from government, regulatory bodies and designated operators to consider each other’s perspectives and examine global and regional trends affecting the sector together.

On the sidelines of the forums, the Director General also met with high-level government representatives, including President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Mr Carlos Alvarado Quesada, to discuss the important role Posts could play in the socio-economic development of their countries and stress the importance of postal reform and modernization efforts.

UPU third Extraordinary Congress

24-26 September 2019, Geneva, Switzerland

UPU member countries rallied together during the UPU’s third Extraordinary Congress to reach a unanimous agreement on the issue of postal remuneration rates, accepting a proposal to introduce self-declared rates by acclamation.

UPU member countries voted to call the Extraordinary Congress – only the third in UPU’s history, but the second in little more than a year – after several countries raised concerns about cost coverage and market distortions under the rates system decided during the 2016 Istanbul Congress. Among the group of countries was the United States, which had notified the UPU of its intent to withdraw from the Union by October 2019 if a solution to the rates system could not be reached. 

The Congress approved a proposal known as “Option V” by acclamation during its second day of discussions. The proposal will see the UPU accelerate rate increases to the system used to remunerate the delivery of inbound international bulky letters and small packets, phasing in self-declared rates as soon as July 2020.

Following the success of the Extraordinary Congress, U.S. President Donald J. Trump invited UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein to the White House to receive a letter revoking the country’s decision to withdraw from the Union.

UPU World CEO Forum

30 September 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands

After the successes of the UPU World CEO Forums in Paris, Moscow and Istanbul, the forum returned for its fourth edition in 2019. Held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during the Parcel and Post Expo, the globally recognized event brought together postal CEOs from across the world to discuss the international postal network’s most important trends and developments.

Titled “New business models in an age of change”, the forum’s curtain raiser was an on-stage interview with UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein about the dramatic events of the third Extraordinary Congress held the week before in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr Hussein told the audience that the agreement had helped resolve the vexed issue of remuneration rates.

Afterwards, there followed discussions on the likely impact of blockchain on the Post and new strategies for engaging both the young and the old. The event finished with a keynote speech from the Deputy Director General, Pascal Clivaz.

Parcel+Post Expo

1-3 October 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands

More than 4,000 postal operators and private sector companies from 97 countries attended this year’s Parcel+Post Expo.

The attendees learned about the latest advancements in the postal, parcel and last-mile delivery sectors. Over 200 exhibitors from around the world presented these innovations including drones, electric delivery vehicles, robotics and the most recent Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

The UPU was also present at the exhibition with its own stand and dedicated speakers. Lati Matata, UPU Postal Technology Centre Director, made a presentation about UPU IT products and services. The participants learned that the UPU is the largest logistics company providing seamless cross-border solutions to 95% of the population globally. UPU’s Stéphane Herrmann, Lead Technical Account Manager for Mail Products and Services, spoke about UPU’s first- and last-mile solutions, including the Domestic Postal System, a future Android mail delivery application. Sandrine Diffo, UPU Quality Assurance Lead Software Developer, presented UPU’s big data platform. The audience learned that the UPU is the only UN agency that has a big data platform based on electronic advanced data (EDI) messaging for deeper data analysis.

During Parcel+Post Expo, more than 150 speakers took part in interactive sessions covering various aspects of digital innovations, e-commerce, customer engagements, artificial intelligence, communications and social media. The UPU Deputy Director General presented and explained the compromise Option V on postal remuneration rates reached during the UPU third Extraordinary Congress in Geneva.

Postal Operations Council & Council of Administration

S5: 1-12 April 2019, Berne, Switzerland

S6: 14-25 October 2019, Berne Switzerland

The UPU’s Councils held two regular sessions in 2019, making considerable progress on their work programmes and deliverables, particularly concerning the 2016 Congress mandate to develop an access policy for wider postal sector players to benefit from UPU products and services.

During April’s S5 meetings, the Postal Operations Council and Council of Administration (CA) approved a proposal allowing priority partners such as customs authorities and airlines to access the organization’s supply chain-related IT services. The access is expected to improve the efficiency of customs clearance, transport and security across the postal network.  

Later in the year, during S6, the CA decided to intensify its studies on the inclusion of wider postal sector players within the UPU, establishing a special task force and deciding to hold an open consultation on the matter. The task force will be responsible for presenting a roadmap for accelerating the opening up of UPU products and services to the February 2020 CA session. Ahead of this, the UPU will organize a high-level forum on wider postal sector engagement in January to seek the views of the organization’s various stakeholder groups, including the private sector.

UPU Global Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation in an E-Commerce World

26-28 November 2019, Xiamen, China

Some 367 participants from 102 countries, UN partner agencies, other international organizations, and private sector companies gathered at this global forum to discuss joint e-commerce issues and find solutions for cross-border cooperation. Participating organizations included WCO, IATA, ICAO, OSJD, OTIF, UNCTAD, INCB, as well as Cainiao, JD.com, eBay, just to name a few.

Participants discussed every aspect of cross-border e-commerce: postal supply chain matters, quality of service improvement, operational achievements, and the most recent digital innovations for future development. In the spirit of true multilateral dialogue, they managed to find practical, rather than theoretical, solutions and their application.

The conference has proven that the UPU, as true single postal network and a knowledge hub, creates the proper dynamic environment, helping all its players learn from each other, share their intelligence and reach outside their comfort zones to ensure the sustainable development of global trade.



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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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