Speech of the UPU Director General at the High Level Forum on wider postal sector engagement

Speech of the UPU Director General at the High Level Forum on wider postal sector engagement, Berne, 13 February 2020

Check against delivery

Secretary General Zhao,

Minister Sanogo

Ambassador Bremberg,

Chairman G├╝lten,

Chairman Metoki

Chairman Trezek,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


A very warm welcome to this unique discussion on opening up the Universal Postal Union to wider postal sector engagement.

My special thanks to Secretary General Zhao, Minister Sanogo and Ambassador Bremberg, as well as the many other speakers who have come here today to ensure we have the broadest possible conversation.

We are open to dialogue. This forum is a key milestone in our history, and I am here today to listen, to take note and to benefit from your experiences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,      

The postal sector has changed beyond all recognition since I first began my career in the 1980s.

That pace of change is truly astonishing. The ideas of today can become the realities of tomorrow; but just as significantly, what is current and modern today may quickly become obsolete.

I am proud that UPU has always adapted; has always managed to move forward, but today we face radical and profound changes in ways that I think few could have experienced in our 145-year history.   

The boundaries of the international postal sector are constantly rearranging themselves; competition is driving great change.

Liberalization, privatization and the tremendous surge in e-commerce is transforming the sector and introducing a range of new players—All of them involved in the supply chain and last mile delivery.

We have long recognised the need for change. In 2004, we created a consultative committee with representatives of the wider postal sector. However, we now need to deepen this engagement and to accelerate the process. 

There are other reasons for doing so. At the international level, as a UN specialized agency, we are seeing the private sector and civil society collaborate to advance work on the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the many other discussions and decisions within the UN system.

One such nexus point is the UN Global Compact allowing CEOs to take action on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.   

If the line drawn between public and private is  softening, and there is a growing awareness from all sides of the need to work for the public good, where does that leave the international postal community? 

At present, we exist in an environment where—in some countries—the designated operator is no longer the sole operator. How do we then continue to maintain the Universal Service Obligation, while ensuring that the postal sector remains competitive, innovative and prosperous?

The Universal Postal Union is the guardian of the USO, but for years now, I have believed that we can forge a new progressive and sustainable path.

A path offering fresh opportunities by drawing in the new postal players for the benefit of all, while also maintaining loyalty to our core mandate of one world, one postal network.

But to achieve, this, Ladies and Gentlemen, it will require us to embrace change and by doing so, open up a new door to a challenging environment.

This is why I am so very pleased to see you all gathered today, we will hear from you about introducing not just organizational change, but also sectoral change.

We will listen to how you have opened up to wider representation and introduced new stakeholders to your respective industries.

For the private sector, the forum provides a platform to articulate their expectations for the UPU, its value proposition and the mechanism that can build an enduring win-win relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The outcomes of our discussion today can enrich and drive the work of the task force created by our Council of Administration.  

Your views can be a powerful blueprint for change and will help shape the strategy for a progressive and sustainable UPU.

The Task force will propose a way forward and the steps to be taken by which the UPU can widen and deepen its level of engagement with the private sector and across all the elements of the postal ecosystem.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Help us choose a path to a better future, and by doing so, enable us to adapt to the 21st Century’s formidable landscape and be more responsive to the needs of the wider postal stakeholders.

I look forward to hearing your views and I once again thank you for coming here today.