Tuesday, 25 January 2022

UPU bridging postal development gaps

While UPU works to move the sector forward, it must also ensure no one is left behind. Nicolas Bilhoto, who leads cooperation methods in the UPU’s Development Cooperation Directorate, explains how the organization’s regional development plans will help reduce inequalities in postal development.

What are the UPU’s regional development plans?

With UPU’s regional development plans (RDP), we want to raise the attention of the governments and development partners about the need to provide a universal service and continue developing the postal sector in order to fulfil the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

We do an RDP for each of the developing regions, including Africa, Arab region, Asia-Pacific, Caribbean, Europe and the CIS, and Latin America. These plans contain four chapters. The first chapter looks at the global postal sector and highlights its importance as an economic infrastructure. The second chapter presents the situation of the postal sector in that particular region. The third chapter assesses the work done under the previous RDP for that region. Lastly, the fourth chapter provides a brief description of some of the key areas where the UPU intends to support the specific region during the 2022–2025 cycle.

The RDPs provide a platform for all players to cooperate in achieving these objectives and priorities, to share available resources in the best possible way, and to clearly define the roles of each player in formulating and implementing the plan and projects in the various regions.

What are some of the transversal targets the RDPs will address from 2022-2025?

Belonging as it does to the United Nations system, the UPU also needs to work on delivering the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. One of the main areas we focus on in our RDPs is providing tools for the postal sector and the governments to use the postal sector to the benefit of implementing the SDGs.

Another important aspect we are working on, which came from the previous cycles and the decisions of the 2021 Abidjan Congress, is climate change. Society is facing a new challenge in terms of climate change, disaster risk management and those activities are included as the main targets in our RDPs.

Another challenge the RDPs will address is declining letter-post volumes, combined with rapid technological developments and the dramatic increase in e-commerce and trade through the postal sector. However, posts in a number of developing countries are not yet able to meet these new market requirements, which has a direct impact on access to fundamental services and compromises the development of the postal sector in general. Effective cooperation activities are therefore needed to help these countries implement measures to turn this situation around.

How can the UPU ensure the success of these plans?

Development cooperation is a key focus of the UPU’s mission and is enshrined in its Constitution. This is one of the main reasons the UPU exists.

From our side, we adapt and update our presence in the field, getting the UPU closer into the regions. We also work on South-South and triangular cooperation to better support least developed countries and small island developing states. We also help ensure the readiness of postal staff through the UPU’s online distance learning tool, Trainpost.

All of these activities are organized through a project management-based approach, which provides centralized coordination with partners and helps the UPU find ways to improve activities or create efficiencies while the plans are being implemented. Finally, the UPU’s Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD), which measures and monitors postal development around the world, will help monitor the success of the RDPs in the short, medium and long term.

What is the role of governments in ensuring their success?

The RDPs cannot succeed without the support of governments. They are the ones who define the role of the Post and invest in its development at the national level. As we believe that the governments are a key factor in developing the postal sector, we strive to work closer with them by implementing actions and communications strategies to show them importance the postal sector has in their national development. 

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