The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has begun work on the postal sector’s contribution to the Global Digital Compact, which is a UN initiative with the aim of developing shared principles for an open, free, and secure digital future for all.The Digital Compact can trace its roots back to September 2020 when a political declaration was adopted during the UN’s virtual 75th anniversary meeting. The declaration outlines how the world’s challenges can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism and stronger international cooperation. Included in the declaration is a commitment to improve digital cooperation and to develop a shared vision for the digital future.
As part of this, in September 2021, the Secretary-General released his report, Our Common Agenda, which proposes a Global Digital Compact to be agreed at the Summit of the Future in September 2023. The UN Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, which will advance work on the Global Digital Compact, has now launched a consultation period for the Compact and is calling for all stakeholders, including member states, and the private and public sectors, to share their input by September 30, 2022.
As the UN agency for the postal sector, the UPU has launched an internal consultation on its input to the Digital Compact, with the aim of gathering the views of the postal sector and presenting them to the UN. The work is being coordinated within the UPU’s Digital Transformation and Innovation Group, which is a recently created Postal Operations Council (POC) standing group.
Paul Donohoe, Digital Policy, and Trade Coordinator at the UPU, explains more, “The postal network and the UPU were agreed as key stakeholders in the development of the Information Society, as recognised in the outcomes of the UN World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005. Now with this new UN Digital Compact initiative, we aim to refresh and consolidate the postal sector’s input into the development of the digital economy. To do this, over the coming months we will launch a consolidation process with the ministries and their designated operators responsible for postal matters, for finalisation at the UPU’s POC and Council of Administration (CA) meetings during the second half of October.”
According to Donohoe, it is essential for postal sector stakeholders to have their say on how the Digital Compact will take shape as they are “key drivers of the digital economy, and can advance not only digital, but also financial and social inclusion.”
Donohoe’s point is echoed by Yu Ping Chan, Senior Programme Officer at the UN Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology. Chan adds, “There are significant gaps in global digital cooperation, and digital technology issues are too often low on political agendas. The postal sector is an integral part of ensuring a dynamic and forward-leaning economy, and with increasing global digitalization, its contributions and perspectives to the Compact are essential.”
A Global Digital Compact with shared principles on how to advance digitalization globally could be especially beneficial for small island developing states (SIDS), which often face many challenges when it comes to embracing the digital age, including lack of human and financial resources and insufficient knowledge and skills.
Looking at how the Global Digital Compact could support SIDS as they enter the digital economy, Chan continues, “The Compact is an opportunity to shape the principles and contours of the digital future we want, and a flourishing and resilient digital economy where all countries, regardless of size, participate and benefit is an essential part of this. As such, we hope that all stakeholders can engage with the UN and share their views on what is needed, including answering this exact question of how the international community can better support small and emerging economies.”
To take a closer look at how SIDS and their Posts can embrace digital transformation to advance socioeconomic development, Donohoe was joined by postal, ICT and trade experts from the Caribbean and the Pacific, during the UPU’s “ICT for SIDS” webinar on July 26 2022. The event was moderated by Ian Kerr, UPU Voice Mail podcast host. Anyone interested in how Posts can mobilize themselves to drive the digital development of emerging economies is invited to watch the event and take part in the future editions.