Committee 3 (General and Policy Matters) Meeting, 26th Universal Postal Congress

Speech by UPU Secretary General Bishar A. Hussein, Istanbul, Turkey, September 21 2016

Mr. Chairman of Congress, Kenan Bozgeyik, CEO of Turkish Post,

Madame Chair, Nokqubela Jordan-Dyani representing South Africa,

Distinguished Delegates and Observers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this first sitting of Congress Committee 3 that brings us to the end of the Doha Postal Cycle by considering a wide range of general and policy matters related to the continuing development of the international postal sector.

This cycle has been a remarkable one, and Committee 3 will be concluding the cycle by taking decisions on a huge range of issues – far too many and varied  for me to talk about today.

I would, however, like to focus my opening remarks to you today on three of the key issues that Committee 3 will be dealing with.

Allow me to start with the Integrated Product Plan which will be discussed later this afternoon.

The message is  quite simple: customers and the market place are telling us that we are not meeting their needs. In order to address this, we need to urgently change the way we respond and the way we operate.

We need to recall that, in approving the Doha Postal Strategy, the 2012 Congress called for a more integrated way of working to better understand and capture the opportunities for growth in letter-post items, parcel-post items and EMS services.

We should also take note of the ongoing development and growth of alternative networks which is another clear signal that the UPU network is not adequately meeting the needs of the changing market. If the UPU does not adapt, it will find it increasingly difficult to seize current opportunities and will be left unprepared to face its identified threats. Therefore, waiting for change to gradually take place is no longer an option. The UPU urgently needs to confront challenges, adapt quickly to the marketplace, make effective use of its strengths, and address its weaknesses. Failure to do so will result in a continuing increase in the number of designated operators moving traffic outside the UPU network. I urge you to take this on board when considering your approval of the Integrated Product Plan.

The second issue which I would like to bring to your attention is our quadrennial postal strategy. I  want to remind you that in the process of implementing the Doha resolutions during the cycle, we organized more than 25 international and regional forums on a variety of topics. The forums involved sensitization and introduction of new products and innovations as well as the sharing of information and best practices. Notable among these forums were the seven regional round tables on UPU strategy that helped us to develop the regional priorities for the next cycle. I wish to thank the restricted unions for assisting in co-organizing these forums in various parts of the world. Over 155 countries (89%) of UPU members participated in these forums. 

As a result, we now have a proposed Istanbul World Postal Strategy and the UPU's Vision 2020, which is anchored on innovation, integration and inclusion. We have also developed a business plan and a proposed structure to deliver it. These are all contained in proposals that will be discussed during the fifth sitting of Committee 3.

Lastly, Madame Chair, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, is the issue of reform. During the current cycle, we have developed proposals on reform of the Union, as desired by members countries. This issue will no doubt create a lot of intense debate when it is discussed during the second sitting of Committee 3 on Monday next week.

Indeed, the subject of reform has been with us for many years and we should now bring it to a close.  Our current working structure is heavy, cumbersome, bureaucratic, quite expensive and difficult to manage with our limited resources. It is, therefore, imperative that we reform the Union in order for it to continue being relevant to our members, and to adapt quickly to the changing marketplace. The reforms involve creating more efficiency in our work, faster decision making and better use of our resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have desired reform for far too long to let it slip out of our reach over issues we can easily manage. I wish to call upon us to be inspired by the words of one of the greatest leaders of our time, Mr Nelson Mandela, the former president of the Republic of South Africa, who said:

"Action without vision is only passing time,

Vision without action is merely daydreaming,

Vision with action can change the world."

I wish you every success in your work and thank you for your attention.