Proposed Agenda for the 2010 Strategy Conference in Kenya

UPU Circular letter of 18 December 2009 (reference: 6850(DFI.PPS)1209)

Comments by the United States of America

As some delegations pointed out at the November 2009 Council of Administration, our view is that the agenda for this Conference in Nairobi should focus more on the Nairobi Postal Strategy and the elements to be included in the UPU Strategy to be considered at the 2012 Doha Congress (the Doha Postal Strategy).

At the 2009 Postal Operations Council, we already heard high-level presentations about the impact of the worldwide recession on postal and delivery services. We wonder if further presentations on this subject will be of use at this Conference. Rather, in Nairobi, it would be more helpful if participants were to focus on the impact of these events on the UPU itself.

Our greatest concern is that the Conference address the Nairobi Postal Strategy and the extent to which it is being implemented, as well as what should be in the Doha Postal Strategy. As drafted, the agenda seems rather fragmented. One simple way to organize the agenda might be to spend day one on the Nairobi Postal Strategy and day two on the Doha Postal Strategy, with day one being more stock-taking and day two being more forward-looking. On day one, more focus should be given to each of the four objectives of the Nairobi Postal Strategy with examples from countries and regions on how they are implementing the objectives and the challenges they face. Most of the topics currently proposed could be incorporated into these objectives (e.g., environment, universal service, the current postal market, quality of service, postal reform, etc.) It might be useful to start the day (after the opening ceremony) with an overview by the IB of the Nairobi Postal Strategy, followed by a status report of the extent to which countries are implementing the Strategy based on the developed measurements and indicators.

Day two could be more forward-looking towards the Doha Postal Strategy. The topics currently proposed could be melded into this, as well as a discussion of how the UPU should be organized to respond best to changes in the postal market. The concluding roundtable could focus on an assessment of the Nairobi Postal Strategy and the extent to which it is being implemented and what changes might be incorporated into the Doha Postal Strategy based on the presentations given and lessons learned. This approach, in our view, would be more structured, practical, and relevant.

The many presentations on this draft agenda reflect the structure of the 2006 Strategy Conference in Dubai. We feel that that approach was a drawback as it left little time for discussion and made the Conference difficult to moderate. Perhaps consolidation of several of the "themed session" topics that specifically deal with trends that will continue to affect the postal sector would be a way to highlight these topics without spending the bulk of the conference discussing them in detail.

Dedicated research or assessment of these topics would be needed as an input to the Doha Postal Strategy; however, during the conference, they could be highlighted for consideration and awareness, and correlated to their impact on the sector (such as urbanization and impact on addressing strategies), and probably consolidated into one or two sessions at most. Specifically, these topics are economic developments, technology advances, environmental influences, and urbanization trends – all of which will impact the sector and market players. The "customer of the future" can be defined by each post, considering their unique markets and business models.

For the session on economic trends and the crisis, participants should be able to review the main outcomes of the CEO session at the 2009 Postal Operations Council and add any updates. However, going into any level of great detail on these topics would be best undertaken as a research initiative in preparation of the Doha Postal Strategy. Here too, instead of looking at the crisis, participants could address possible new opportunities that have arisen, for example, has the public operator become more attractive to businesses because of lower rates?

We believe that it would be most beneficial for this Conference to focus first on a progress check on implementation of the Nairobi Strategy to date, and showcase examples of postal operators implementing those objectives. We should also take an opportunity to identify any gaps that have emerged. The gap analysis can then also serve as an input to shaping the Doha Postal Strategy. Perhaps a possible outcome or goal of the conference could be suggested objectives or a draft framework for the Doha Postal Strategy to be considered by CA Committee 4 on UPU Strategy. We would clearly want direction and focus for the Doha Postal Strategy as an outcome of the Nairobi Conference.

In summary, at a high level, a logical progression of the agenda would be as follows:

  • Progress on implementation of the Nairobi Postal Strategy
  • Assessment of Trends (for example, key trends in the following areas: economic, environmental, technological, and urbanization)
  • Customer of the Future - impact of trends on customers and implications for posts
  • Gaps Identified with NPS, considering current trends and customer needs
  • Framework for Doha Postal Strategy

Finally, we would also propose questions for specific sessions. For current presentations 2 and 3 on diversification, additional questions might be, “What is the role of the UPU as postal administrations diversify into non-postal product areas?” and “What should be the role of the UPU in coordinating more competitive products like EMS and financial services?” For presentation 5 on universal postal service, another question might be, “What is the social value of mail and a postal network?” This is an interesting issue that has not been addressed with any depth.