140th anniversary

Celebrating the spirit of innovation

Bishar Abdirahman Hussein
Bishar Abdirahman Hussein

2014 is a milestone year for the Universal Postal Union, which celebrates its 140th anniversary on 9 October.

The communication landscape has changed considerably since 22 founding countries met in Berne, Switzerland, in 1874 to establish the UPU that now boasts 192 members.

Over the years, the UPU has strived to keep pace with a changing world, harnessing new information and communication technologies to further the development of efficient and accessible universal postal services facilitating communication worldwide.

The capacity to innovate has been a constant thread in our history. At the end of the 19th century, the UPU's very creation was innovative. Its establishment paved the way to the very first multilateral framework that standardized and simplified postal communication across borders, promoting trade and communication.

As such, postal services have played an incredible role in shaping globalization, and this makes the UPU more relevant than ever. As borders disappear, migratory movements swell, and global trade flourishes, physical, financial and electronic postal services remain an essential part of a country's social and economic fabric. They foster people's inclusion in all facets of society, and fuel trade and growth at all levels.

140th anniversary logotype

We can be proud of lasting accomplishments, including the single postal territory and the freedom of transit for postal items that came with the UPU's creation. Today, the world's intertwined postal networks make up the largest distribution network on the planet, enabling billions of people and businesses to communicate and exchange documents and goods. Now that's a social network.

Through the global forum that is the UPU, customers and the sector have benefited from many other innovations. This pioneering spirit continues, as Posts face the digital world head on and show an extraordinary capacity to innovate in areas of secure e-identification, e-commerce, trade facilitation and more.

Since becoming the first United Nations specialized agency to get its own top-level sponsored domain and secure space on the Internet, ".post", the UPU is looking to the future and working to extend the universal service in the digital sphere. Enabling trusted cross-border communication is a critical issue for the development of e-commerce, and postal services play an important role in this area.

These are exciting times. As we look towards a bright future for postal services in a new world, let us celebrate their value as a common good and their contribution to many issues our world grapples with – from promoting literacy and reducing poverty to fostering economic growth and making society more inclusive for everyone.