The UN specialized agency for the postal sector began work on its new strategy and business plan during sessions of its Council of Administration and Postal Operations Council.It was the first regular gathering of the two decision-making bodies following the completion of the Universal Postal Congress held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, this past August, which set the course for the organization’s work until 2025.
Opening the meeting of the Council of Administration (CA), the Union’s supervisory body, Director General Bishar A. Hussein noted the “tumultuous period” facing the organization, encouraging CA members to work swiftly on making the Union’s work more efficient and effective.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced posts to be creative, adaptive, and innovative. It is against this background that CA plays a key role by addressing challenging questions of the UPU,” he said.
The session was the first for incoming CA Chair, Côte d’Ivoire, represented by La Poste Côte d’Ivoire CEO Isaac Gnamba-Yao, and POC Chair, France, represented by La Poste France Director of European/International Relations, Jean-Paul Forceville.
On his hopes for the Council’s first session, Mr. Gnamba-Yao said, “I think it is important we maintain the spirit of Abidjan. And we ensure that every voice is made to count in order to ensure that there is no ‘us and them’ between developed and developing countries. We must work together to implement the initial activities on what is going to be a long road to 2025.”
For his part, Mr. Forceville added, “Your contributions to the work of the POC are essential and, in close collaboration with the vice-chairs, I’ll ensure that you are heard and I’ll try to ensure that you participate actively in the work of the POC.”
“It’s vital that work get started quickly because the sector is changing so quickly … and UPU needs to be in a position to keep pace with those changes. The stakes are indeed very high,” he said.
A key topic addressed by the CA was the opening of the organization to wider postal sector players. Members agreed to establish a task force that will study the matter in 2022, ahead of the 2023 Extraordinary Congress that will take decisions on plans for the opening.
Currently, postal operators designated by governments are the only players with full access to UPU products and services and are the only ones allowed to participate in the organization’s decision-making processes. However, non-designated are increasing their share in growing markets, such as express services and parcels and posts are needing to work with an increasing number of partners outside of the UPU’s membership.
The Council will also oversee work on the Union’s governance and management, postal policy and regulation, strategy implementation, postal economics, market research, development cooperation and technical assistance.
The POC set forward a plan to tackle a number of matters aimed at modernizing technical and operational aspects of the business, including the exchange of electronic advance data (EAD) to meet security and customs regulatory requirements.
The UPU developed what is known as the “Global Postal Model” in response to the emerging EAD requirements across the global postal supply chain and help posts meet the needs associated with global e-commerce. Work over the previous four-year cycle helped ensure countries could meet new regulations coming into force internationally in 2020-21.
This cycle will see the POC the continuation of work on advancing the quality and compliance of EAD exchanges to improve global postal security, tackling any remaining issues hindering global uptake of the technology – namely, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing regulatory changes, and operational disparities between regions.
Apart from EAD, the POC will be responsible for tackling the Union’s work on various aspects of global e-commerce, physical services, the postal supply chain, postal financial services, markets development and innovation.
The POC met 22 to 24 November, while countries gathered for the CA on 25 and 26 November. The next sessions will be held 9 through 20 May 2022.