Closing speech of the UPU Deputy Director General, World Post Day

Closing Speech of the UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz, World Post Day, 9 October 2020


Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you on World Post Day.
Allow me to offer my congratulations to the winner of the International Letter Writing Competition, as well as to Switzerland, Austria and Germany for their exceptional performances in the 2IPD Index.
World Post Day is a day when the Universal Postal Union reaffirms not only the importance of the international postal sector, but also the role it plays within global communications and across the UN System.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in his message for World Post Day, the recent months have been a test for all of humanity.
Confronted by the biggest crisis since World War II, we have all had to alter our lives and to embrace a new way of living.
The international postal sector is no exception. An industry with more than 650,000 post offices and 5.3 million staff has rapidly diversified and shifted its strategies to meet the needs of customers.   
Recognized as an essential service, postal operators globally have seized the moment and embraced new social, financial, business and trade support services.  
Whether giving out food parcels to nursing homes in Bolivia, or delivering 100,000 pension payments in Portugal, posts everywhere have responded positively to the pandemic.
In doing so, as 2IPD readily highlights, they have strengthened the public’s perception of their role and provided ample evidence of their importance to economies everywhere.
UPU has long been a champion of digital transformation; of digital change. Today, that change is an inescapable fact of the postal terrain that we all share.
Indeed, perhaps the French winemaking word, “terroir” best describes the digital  environment for postal operators.
Terroir is not simply the soil, it combines the farming practices, topography, and the many environmental factors that help the vine grow.  
In the same way, the digital nature of our work is not simply an element of the postal environment it extends far beyond that.
Digital is inherent, it forms part of our postal systems and processes; it is hardwired into our future strategies, but COVID-19 has ensured that the future has arrived today. It is here now.
Like the UPU Director General, I do not believe that, having come so far, having seen customers grow so used to the delivery of a vast range of goods to the door, we can go back.
The new normal has changed the final mile.
The final mile is now the digital mile.
But the 2IPD report issues a warning to postal operators, and here I must echo that warning in my remarks today. Let me read from the report:
“[T]he operators that already had the most resilient business models prior to the crisis will fare better, but they will also remain highly dependent on the growth of e-commerce and of wider economic circumstances in their countries.”
The postal sector is now bound to the growth and success of ecommerce; if we are to take advantage, however, we must have in place, the strategies, technology and work cultures needed to ensure that success.
If not, we risk winning the hearts of those locked down, only to lose the business minds because we have failed to promote our unique selling points.   
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me turn to another important aspect of our work, the Universal Postal Union is part of a multilateral system that I believe is a true force for good in this world. 
So many of our current problems, the environment, famine, war, and indeed, pestilence cannot be solved by individual nations working alone.
The tradition of the Universal Postal Union goes back 146 years to this day—World Post Day—when countries met in Bern, Switzerland to create a universal postal network.
This was agreed because those countries recognized that there are some essential services that extend beyond national boundaries.
Services requiring the contributions of all nations joined by a common cause and united in solidarity.
On 24 October, we will celebrate United Nations Day, and in doing so, also congratulate the UN on its 75th birthday!
As we celebrate our birthday today, I want to say how proud I am that we are part of the UN family and how—in the best spirit of the United Nations—we will continue to add our voices to the UN for the cause of multilateral solutions to all global problems.
Let me end by wishing you all, a very happy World Post Day.
Thank you.