With more than 650,000 post offices and 5.3 million staff reaching populations in even the remotest areas, there is no doubt that the postal network is critical infrastructure for connecting citizens and businesses with the services they need. This is more evident now than ever as the spread of COVID-19 has prompted countries to shut down public life, reframing how governments, businesses and citizens view the postal system. Posts across the world are increasingly being recognised and acknowledged as an essential service provider as people are forced to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.
Posts can offer those stuck at home a lifeline. Their physical reach, the trust and confidence they generally hold with the public and their knowledge of people and local communities make Posts an obvious partner to support the broader government response to the pandemic. Many have already assumed additional responsibilities, introducing new services, or expanding existing ones to lend a helping hand to those in need. Some of the most relevant postal services include the last-mile delivery of vaccines, wellness checks for the elderly, prescription medicine delivery, remittances and pension payment delivery.
Against the backdrop of Posts assisting governments in protecting and expanding social, financial, business and trade support services during the pandemic, there is an urgent need to highlight this work and to provide platforms by which knowledge, experiences and solutions may be shared for the benefit of policy makers.
This page is intended to provide a single location for collecting examples of social, financial, business and trade support services that have been initiated and/or expanded by governments and designated operators in response to the pandemic. In the spirit of solidarity, efficiency and collaboration, the UPU is seeking:
- Examples of postal social and financial service responses to COVID-19
- Frameworks on rapid implementation of new services or expansion of existing ones
- Details of new governmental initiatives to facilitate access to social and financial services through the postal network
- Information on barriers or concerns in relation to the provision of such services e.g. regarding funding, access to materials etc.
- Checklists, protocols or other tools that could be shared with other designated operators
- Technical questions or requests for the International Bureau staff
This new UPU webpage will be updated regularly. Questions, examples, suggestions, and other relevant materials should be sent to pss(at)upu.int (social services), pfs(at)upu.int (financial services) or eservices(at)upu.int (ecommerce).
New or modified services
Postal responses to this outbreak are being identified via online articles and through direct contact with UPU member countries. Links to these examples have been published as sub-pages for Social Services, Financial services and Business and trade support services.
The IB has published commentaries on how designated operators have been able to rapidly protect, establish or expand a particular social or financial service. These commentaries are not intended to provide best practice guidance. Instead, their focus is on: sharing more details on the experiences of designated operators, how they are working with governments to address the societal impacts of COVID-19, and emerging themes in policy making in this space.
The UPU’s fourth Extraordinary Congress has agreed on an historic “Green Package” including voluntary climate action targets for the sector, as well as approving an ambitious modernization plan for postal financial services that sets the course for interconnection with the wider postal sector.