The Postal services popped up inside of each nation to handle communications amongst its own citizens. However, the rise of the internet has taken the burden of message sending making room for postal services to handle small packages. The UPU tracked income related to different services and found at the turn of the century letters accounted for 80% of the income while small parcel were 15% (and 5% for other services) in the US. That trend has continued with letters contributing 60% and 30% for parcel. Thankfully, an international organization was created over a century ago to address such issues at a domestic and international level.
The Universal Postal Union, or the UPU “is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players”, according to its website. This 192-country organization is comprised of 4 bodies: Congress, Council of Administration, Postal Operations Council, and International Bureau. More or less, Congress is the political, law-making arm with the Council of Administration filling in the 3 year interim. Conversely, the Postal Operations Council is hands on when gathering statistics and implementing technology with the International Bureau as its support agency. These four bodies recognized the increase in international communication by the 1960’s and instituted remuneration that solidified standard rate ranges for mail between countries. If you used an independent carrier to send mail, remuneration is unnecessary since only one entity is responsibly to deliver the package, but since there are two entities handing off a package between each other, there will probably be unexpected cost differences. Just recently in 2019, the remuneration was modified due to the United States’ deficit incurred. Now the UPU has moved to an Integrated Remuneration Plan that will looked at all the countries possible and average costs to charge more accurate rates and update technology and methodology in certain regions to flatten costs. Now that the UPU handled remuneration it has shifted its focus to go beyond price correction.
If you look at the UN member list, you’ll find all of the UPU’s members plus one more country. That is why all of UPU’s parts is working overtime to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda put out by the UN. There are 17 SDGs in total and improving a nation’s Postal Service would directly help different goals for each country.
To achieve the UN’s initiative, the UPU is deploying the Abidjan Postal Strategy. This was an agenda set in the UPU’s 2021 Congress with mile markers at 2025 and 2030. The goals themselves are:
- 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.
- 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.
The UPU has taken steps to achieve bullet four via the Consultative Committee (CC) by opening its doors to private companies in 2022. Originally the CC was for just NGOs since these organizations would not need or want to speak through their government entities to contact UPU groups. The CC companies range from technologically advanced solutions for niche issues to organizations that own supply chain networks such as Amazon.
With the UPU’s regular updates to actualize a long-term vision, impoverished areas can use the internet in tandem to participate in an international market and create an income for themselves. If you are interested in the UPU’s progress, you can visit their website or tune into the Extraordinary Congressional Session this year. The 2023 dates have been solidified in October and you can probably view it considering any UPU accredited media representative can record it.
Contributor: Matthew Segars, Senior Supply Chain Consultant at Bricz