Source: unic.org

The United Nations postal union opened a two-day strategy session today to plot its course in the new age of technological advances and changing consumer behaviour.

“The Strategy Conference is an opportunity to look at the current trends impacting our sector, including those in the areas of technology, customer behaviour, services diversification and postal financial services,” Universal Postal Union (UPU) Director General Edouard Dayan told more than 550 delegates from 116 countries at the opening of the two-day meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

“We will also look at new economic models and try to better understand the role of postal services in our society. The agents of change are numerous in this period of radical transformation for the postal sector.”

Global postal services form the largest physical distribution network in the world, employing nearly 6 million people to deliver some 430 billion letters and 6 billion parcels each year.

When the UPU was founded in 1874, only the second international organization after the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), postal services were in their infancy and stamps were its trademark. It became a specialized UN agency in 1948, three years after the latter's creation, and has 191 members.

Now it is updating an action plan adopted in 2008, centred on improving the quality of the worldwide postal network, stimulating a universal postal service adapted to the social, economic and technological environment, promoting the sector's sustainable development and fostering the growth of the postal markets and services.

The postal sector is lifting itself out of an economic crisis that has accentuated a trend of declining letter-post volumes, but also provided new opportunities for national services in business segments such as parcels and financial services.

Well before the economic crisis occurred, many postal services around the world had started to diversify, expanding into new areas such as logistics management, e-commerce and e-government. During the crisis, several postal services, especially those managing postal financial institutions, witnessed exponential growth in the number of customers and accounts as a result of consumers' loss of trust in traditional banking institutions.

E-commerce, often responsible for the growth of parcel volumes, also continued to thrive despite the crisis.