The Abidjan Postal Strategy
Like the rest of the global economy, the postal sector is facing unprecedented change as the decades-long trends of liberalization and digitalization continue to transform the world. Multilateralism is undergoing its own transformation too, as the United Nations system works towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, all of these long-term trends have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the UN agency for the postal sector, the Universal Postal Union is called upon to play a role in this new environment. In order to do so, the organization needs a strategy that builds on past successes while opening a prosperous way forward.
It is in this context that the UPU has drafted an ambitious roadmap for the 2021–2025 period, the “Abidjan Postal Strategy”, which was adopted by the 27th Congress in Abidjan in August 2021.
The new strategy reaffirms the UPU’s mission enshrined in its Constitution, which is “to stimulate the lasting development of efficient and accessible universal postal services of quality in order to facilitate communication between the inhabitants of the world”.
Achieving this mission in line with the SDGs requires a long-term vision, an advocacy message called “Postal Vision 2030”, which urges all key postal sector stakeholders to take action in a number of areas. Governments are thus invited to reduce gaps in postal development by utilizing the postal network for socio-economic development. Regulators are encouraged to harmonize and enhance the frameworks under their responsibility. Postal operators are expected to boost their performance through diversification and operational improvements. Other stakeholders are encouraged to integrate further with the postal world, which will also trigger changes in the UPU’s role.
In order to support Postal Vision 2030 throughout the 2021–2025 period, the UPU, as a UN agency, must coordinate its action around three main strategic pillars: being the main forum, the provider of innovative and affordable technical solutions, and the prime information and knowledge centre of the postal sector.
The mission of the UPU, as stated in its Constitution, is “to stimulate the lasting development of efficient and accessible universal postal services of quality in order to facilitate communication between the inhabitants of the world by:
- guaranteeing the free circulation of postal items over a single postal territory composed of interconnected networks;
- encouraging the adoption of fair common standards and the use of technology;
- ensuring cooperation and interaction among stakeholders;
- promoting effective technical cooperation;
- ensuring the satisfaction of customers’ changing needs.
This mission, with some incremental modifications added in the early 2000s, has been guiding the UPU through over 145 years of history, and its message remains as relevant as ever.
Postal Vision 2030
Postal Vision 2030 - the UPU’s advocacy message for the postal sector
Based on the overarching aim of promoting socio-economic development and contributing to the achievement of the UN SDGs, the vision of the postal sector for 2030 relies on four key areas of action outlined by ministers in charge of the sector:
- Governments should decrease gaps in postal development through increased investments and focused policies, and promote various ways to utilize the postal network for socio-economic development;
- Regulators should harmonize and enhance the sector’s regulatory framework;
- Operators should seek to enhance their performance by implementing diversified strategies and operational improvements; and
- Other stakeholders from the private sector and public institutions should pursue integration into the sector by engaging with traditional stakeholders, and vice-versa. This means opening up the market, fostering partnerships and enhancing the role of the UPU.
Postal Vision 2030 will guide the UPU’s value proposition for the sector, articulated through the strategic pillars presented below.
Strategic pillars for 2021-2025
Through the extensive and inclusive consultation conducted on strategy, postal sector stakeholders have expressed their preference for three key categories of UPU solutions that most closely match their objectives. These can be organized according to the following three main pillars, expressing what the UPU as an organization aims to achieve by the end of the 2021–2025 period:
- Strengthen the UPU’s mandate as the foremost forum for postal sector development.
- Reinforce the UPU’s role as a provider of innovative and affordable technical solutions for postal sector stakeholders.
- Enable the UPU to become the prime information and knowledge centre of the postal sector.
Overall, these three pillars ought to enable the UPU to boost its relevance and financial strength, while supporting postal sector stakeholders in achieving Postal Vision 2030.
Implementation and monitoring
When implementing the strategy, the UPU will rely on a comprehensive business plan, containing inter alia:
- A set of expected outcomes for the postal sector by 2030 (expressed as KPIs);
- A set of expected outputs from the UPU by 2025 (also expressed as KPIs);
- An estimate of the financial resources required to generate the expected outputs.
The results of this comprehensive plan will be monitored, evaluated and reported upon through regular strategy implementation reports. This, in turn, could potentially lead to adjustments in the business plan subject to new circumstances that may arise during the 2021–2025 period, especially in terms of funding. In particular, the regular budget will be limited, as in the past, by the ceiling approved by the 27th Congress.
There will be some key success factors in the implementing the strategy. In particular, the UPU will have to:
- Focus a greater share of its financial, human and material resources on the creation of new products and services for a wider stakeholder base;
- Improve its financial strength by increasing its revenues and diversifying its funding structure, resorting more extensively to fee-paying models for each of its solutions, which would thus be directly financed by users. In this context, UPU products would need to be opened up at a fee to external users (e.g. global logistics companies, market research firms), thus potentially increasing the revenue-generating capacity of the organization;
- Continue efforts towards building a diversified and highly competent workforce capable of responding to the needs of all users of the UPU’s solutions;
- Increase the level of regionalization of the UPU’s activities, with greater presence in the field and a higher share of production and distribution activities undertaken outside of the headquarters in Berne.
The Abidjan Postal Strategy in a nutshell
Archives from previous strategic plans
Regional Strategy Forums 2019
11.02.202025-26 April, Bangkok, Thailand.
11.02.202014-15 June 2019, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Programme - Regional Strategy Forum for the Caribbean11.02.202024-25 June 2019, Havana, Cuba.
Programme - Regional Strategy Forum for Europe and Central Asia11.02.20209-10 July 2019, Minsk, Belarus.
11.12.201923-24 July 2019, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Programme - Regional Strategy Forum for Americas11.02.202012-13 August 2019, San José, Costa Rica.