SIDS pledge to advocate post’s role in accelerating digital economy development

The pledge was made as part of the Mahé Declaration adopted at the close of the UPU’s first-ever SIDS Postal Leaders Forum, which took place 5-7 March in Mahé, Seychelles, and focused on digitalization and sustainable growth boosters for small island developing states (SIDS).

Based on the forum’s discussions, which included views from posts, the wider postal sector and international partners, the declaration focuses on leveraging postal networks to bridge the digital divide and promote sustainable growth in SIDS, emphasizing the potential of postal infrastructure to extend digital, financial, and e-commerce services to remote areas. It highlights the role of designated operators in facilitating the uptake of digital services and enhancing digital inclusion, particularly through public-private partnerships, calling on governments to include the post in their national development and digital transformation strategies.

The declaration outlines pledges to promote collaboration, advocate for inclusive access to digital services, enhance postal staff's digital skills, and improve cybersecurity. It also urges governments to utilize universal service funds for digital infrastructure deployment.

“We, participants in the SIDS Postal Leaders Forum, declare our commitment to the full and rapid implementation of this Declaration. We also pledge to spare no effort in expanding and using the postal network for the sustainable development of digital economies and societies,” the declaration states.

Belize Postal Services Postmaster General Marsha Price read the declaration on behalf of participants at the culmination of the forum, which gathered decision makers from nearly 30 SIDS posts.

Due to their location and financial constraints, representatives from SIDS are often unable to participate in regular UPU meetings and fora. The forum was the first of its kind bringing together so many leaders from these countries at one time.

Speaking on the event’s role, UPU Director for Development and Cooperation Mutua Muthusi noted the importance of having postal decision-makers present to ensure that the knowledge earned and lessons learned can be implemented far and wide for SIDS posts.

“SIDS are spread across the world but, as we have listened to them here, all of them face more or less the same circumstances,” he said. “We believe that after these discussions it will be very easy to implement [the Mahé Declaration].”

Day 3 discussions

Earlier, the third day’s discussions took a deep-dive into the digital economy and diversification for SIDS posts.
UNCTAD Trade and Logistics Branch Head Jan Hoffmann opened the morning with a presentation on potential trade facilitation solutions to enhance postal supply chains, including challenges and opportunities to be addressed in the post-pandemic era.

This was followed by two panel discussions. The first, moderated by UPU Digital Inclusion Expert Juan Moroni, had speakers from the International Telecommunications Union, African Telecommunications Union, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu deliberate on challenges, experiences and considerations for SIDS adopting cutting-edge technologies to diversify their postal services offering. The second panel of the day, moderated by African Union Commission Senior ICT Expert Mihret Woodmatas, discussed how SIDS could effectively leverage current e-commerce opportunities. The final panel heard views from Antigua and Barbuda, Tuvalu and Fiji.

In addition to the adoption of the Mahé Declaration, the closing ceremony provided the opportunity for the UPU to acknowledge Seychelles Postal Services as the first organization to register a .POST domain under the new .POST shared services platform, Seychelles Postal Services CEO Mariella Buisson received a certificate of honour from the Deputy Director General and the Director of the UPU’s Postal Technology Centre.

The host country also acknowledged the UPU’s 150th anniversary year, launching a stamp designing contest for children which will result in the country’s commemorative UPU 150 stamp design.

Read the full declaration here.

Watch the forum recordings here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3