The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has successfully concluded its fourth Extraordinary Congress, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 1 to 5 October 2023. At this meeting of postal plenipotentiaries, historic decisions were made that will affect the global postal sector, including groundbreaking agreements on opening up to wider postal sector players, climate action targets and modernization plans for postal financial services.Speaking at the closing plenary meeting of the Congress, the UPU Director General, Mr Masahiko Metoki, said that, “Throughout our time here, we have witnessed the extraordinary power of international collaboration and the enduring importance of the postal sector in connecting people, businesses and nations.”
He concluded with, “As we leave Riyadh, let us carry with us the spirit of collaboration, the determination to innovate, and the unwavering commitment to serve our communities.”
Enhanced wider sector engagement
With a view to bolstering the development of a truly interconnected, efficient and universal postal service for all, the UPU members passed a raft of proposals that will see deeper engagement of the UPU with wider postal sector players – those postal companies and partners outside the UPU network of government-designated postal operators.
An unprecedented “green package” was approved during the Congress, outlining voluntary climate action targets for the postal sector. These targets are aimed at reducing the global greenhouse gas emissions of the postal sector and building capacity for climate action.
The package also establishes a framework for climate action, focusing on mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, supported by a dedicated climate facility. Germany and the United Arab Emirates have pledged part of the financial support for this initiative.
Transforming postal financial services
The Congress also ushered in changes to postal financial services, with a focus on modernization and interconnection with wider postal financial service players. This will include the evolution of the UPU’s legal frameworks for postal payment services, as well as the eventual establishment of an advisory knowledge centre, subject to extrabudgetary funding, to ensure future-ready services.
In an historic decision, the UPU member countries decided to increase the UPU’s regular budget ceiling to provide the organization with additional financial resources.
On the final day of the Extraordinary Congress, the UPU launched its first “State of the Postal Sector” report, which, using the UPU’s wealth of postal data, draws a clear link between postal sector maturity and economic resilience. The report includes an index of postal development worldwide, comprising data from 172 countries.
Awards were given to those who achieved the highest overall level of postal development (Austria, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland), those who saw the greatest year-on-year improvement in postal development (Oman, Slovenia and Uzbekistan), and those who attained the highest level of development within their region (Brazil, China (People’s Rep.), Estonia, Ethiopia and Morocco).
The UPU also celebrated the winners of its 52nd International Letter Writing Competition, for which children were invited to write a letter to someone explaining the super powers that they would need to achieve their mission of making roads safe for all children. The competition was organized in cooperation with the United Nations Road Safety Fund.
Claire Gakii, 13, from Kenya, received the gold medal for her letter, which she read before the delegates during the closing plenary of the Congress. The silver medal was awarded to Matilde Magalhães Da Silva, 11, from Portugal, with 12-year-old Dao Khuong Duy from Viet Nam winning the bronze prize.
For more information on the Congress decisions:
For more information on the “State of the Postal Sector” report and Postal Excellence Awards:
For more information on the UPU International Letter-Writing Competition:
The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital of Berne. Established in 1874, it is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players and helps to ensure a truly universal network of modern postal products and services.
UPU media contact:
Ms Kayla Redstone
Lead Expert, Communication & Outreach Programme
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Mobile: +41 76 457 36 54