The newly issued IRC, designed by a 15-year-old girl from Belarus, reinforces the importance of protecting our climate.“The international reply coupon has been around for more than a century and continues to serve as an international franking item, but not only that, it is also appreciated as a collectible item by philatelists and collectors,” said Olfa Mokaddem, manager of the UPU’s Philately and IRC Programme.
IRCs allow someone sending a letter to another country to pay for the postage for the reply in advance. They may be exchanged for the minimum required postage for an unregistered priority item or airmail letter in any of the UPU’s 192 member countries. The UPU launches a new IRC following each Congress.
To select a new design for 2021-2025, the UPU organized an international design competition amongst its member countries under the theme "Preserving the ecosystem - Protecting the climate.” The new theme was inspired by the UN sustainable development goals on climate action and life on land.
“The IRC also plays a communication role, carrying a message. We believe that this is a way to participate in the diffusion of these goals, by appealing to collectors and philatelists around the world,” she added.
Members were asked launch their own national competitions among local artists to select and submit an environmentally-focused design to the UPU’s international round. Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Costa Rica, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Ukraine and Viet Nam submitted their designs to the UPU and a vote amongst member country representatives selected an illustration created by 15-year-old Valeryia Tsimakhavets from Grodno, Belarus, as the winner.
Motivated by looming environmental concerns and the desire to encourage others to care for nature, Tsimakhavets’ design depicts two gentle hands forming the branches of a tree whose leaves are nestled with birds and whose roots cradle the Earth.
A description of the submission provided by Belpochta explains that Tsimakhavets’ design is meant to convey “harmony and cohesion in the natural world.” It also strives to encourage people to “protect and maintain biodiversity on Earth.”
The teenaged girl has been an avid artist since childhood and has already participated in various exhibitions and arts and crafts competitions.
The new IRC, dubbed the “Abidjan IRC” after the cycle during which it was launched, went on sale in September and will be valid for exchange until 31 December 2025.
To learn more about international reply coupons, please visit the dedicated web page.