“Let’s step out of our comfort zone and test new ideas upon which we can build the future of the Post,” said Hussein as he launched the discussions. Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan of Côte d’Ivoire, the country chairing the conference, officially opened the two-day event earlier this morning.
The conference starts a process aimed at drafting the next world postal strategy to be delivered at the Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2016. Conference delegates will take stock of the UPU’s current four-year roadmap – the Doha Postal Strategy adopted in 2012 – and discuss the issues and trends that will shape the organization’s future blueprint. The conference is being attended by more than 20 ministers as well as many regulators, postal executives, leaders of labour, trade and migration organizations and representatives of United Nations and other international organizations.
In his message to conference delegates, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said postal services have a clear role to play in the UN’s post-development agenda being finalized for adoption in September. “As the world shapes a new sustainable development agenda and strives to address the threat posed by climate change, postal services can and must be part of the solution.”
Postal activities increasingly focused on logistics and financial services instead of traditional mail, the growth of e-commerce and the rise of parcel volumes, and changing consumer behaviours are among various phenomena forcing public postal services to redefine themselves for the 21st century. “The roadmap that guides our actions and decisions reflects the global postal environment, an environment marked by profound changes and tipping points representing both challenges and opportunities for the postal sector,” said Hussein.
Changing consumer habits brought on by new technological applications is perhaps one of the greater challenges facing the postal sector. “The modern consumer is digital, concerned with sustainable development, and has a totally different gauge for the value of a product or service,” said Hussein. “Clients today want to access services anywhere, anytime. They want products tailored to their preferred method of consumption, and they want those products to be delivered at home or right next door.”
And Posts must see this new reality as an exciting opportunity, not a constraint, added the director general. “E-commerce, the digitization of financial services, new mobile payment solutions and big postal data are all major assets that position the postal sector at the heart of the technological revolution.”
Letter-post volumes have traditionally accounted for the bulk of postal revenues. But since 2013 they have accounted for less than 50 per cent of the revenues of the 20 largest Posts in the world. Additionally, UPU data shows that Posts are increasingly handling more merchandises than documents, an indication of the impact of e-commerce on the postal business.
With business-to-consumers (B2C) e-commerce expected to hit 2.4 billion USD in 2018, Posts must explore new delivery models to meet customers’ expectation to receive their goods when and where they want them. The capacity of the postal network to provide universal access is a major asset, said a recent e-commerce report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It included home postal delivery as a key readiness indicator in a country’s ability to conduct e-commerce successfully.
About 135 UPU member countries are represented at the Strategy Conference, which concludes tomorrow. Some 40 speakers are taking part in a series of panel discussions covering major themes such as the role of postal services in trade facilitation and social, financial and economic inclusion, the role of postal regulation in an ever-evolving communications market and the importance of innovation in ensuring that postal services and networks remain relevant in today’s society.
Note to editors: Photos of the World Strategy Conference opening ceremony are available at www.flickr.com/universal_postal_unionPress release