UPU Forum necessary transformations for wider postal sector inclusion

14.02.2020 - The afternoon sessions of the UPU’s High-Level Forum on wider postal sector engagement focused on what UPU members would need to consider in their roadmap to opening up the organization to wider postal sector players.

Photo: Sophia Bennett

The Forum’s third panel drew on the experience of other international organizations to determine how the UPU would have to transform to meet the needs of new stakeholder groups.

Speaking first was International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary General Houlin Zhao, who detailed the UN specialized agency’s model including more than 900 non-governmental members.

Mr Zhao said he fully supported the UPU’s initiative to encourage private sector to take part in the organization’s activities, noting how including the private players had helped accelerate ITU processes.

In order to capture the interest of new stakeholders, he explained that ITU had to “have good contact with the industry to encourage them to have confidence to come to us.”

World Customs Organization (WCO) Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Treviño explained that increasing cross-border e-commerce meant the UPU, like WCO, had no option but to engage with other stakeholders in the market. He encouraged UPU to focus on opportunities for exchanging information with different market segments.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) head for e-commerce and cargo operations, Brendan Sullivan, echoed this, emphasizing the importance of collaboration with all players to ensure safe and secure air transport.

He also described how the inclusion of wider sector players in the air transport industry had changed the organization’s funding model, which now focuses on developing and selling products and services demanded by the market to fund its activities rather than relying on member contributions.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also reaps 90% of its revenues from the private sector, according to Anna Morawiec Mansfield, WIPO’s deputy legal counsel. The organization is now open to an additional 400 observers from across the sector, allowing it to provide a better service to the end-user.

 “We are still obligated to carry out the work directed by member countries, but with input from the private sector,” she said.

Next steps

The last panel of the day addressed the opportunities and challenges opening up the UPU could present for different postal stakeholders, as well as the UPU.

UNI Global Union Secretary General Christy Hoffman urged the UPU to consider the new set of issues it would have to take on board, raising concerns over poor working conditions in last-mile delivery market.

“We encourage the opening of the UPU, but on an even playing field,” she said, adding that there would need to be “a uniform set of regulations that also covers the private sector companies.”

Georgian Post Director General Levan Chikvaidze suggested the UPU could learn from the experience of postal operators who had already worked with private sector companies to ensure a level playing field. He noted how Georgian Post was partnering with a private courier to deliver express items in weak parts of its network, helping the operator meet its universal service obligation.

Opening lines of communication would also be key to successful collaboration with multiple stakeholder groups, according to Sean Doherty, Head of International and Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum.

Co-chairs of the UPU’s task force on opening to wider sector players, Jack Hamande of Belgium and Matano Ndaro of Kenya, also weighed in on the panel.

Mr Ndaro urged members to consider the changing needs of postal customers, as the Post’s traditional letters market continues to decline and more shares of the parcels market are taken by private operators.

“The universal service obligation is not the only need of a citizen,” said Mr Ndaro.

Mr Hamande congratulated the UPU for opening the path to cooperation, noting that the task force would report its recommendations to the Unions supervisor council in two weeks’ time.

Closing the Forum, UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein encouraged members to consider the relevance of the Universal Postal Union and the Post as they go forward.

“You will be the ones to determine what to open and how it will be opened. Please, let’s take the first steps.”

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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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