Friday, October 26, 2012

More Focus on Addressing and Address Systems at UPU Congress

 tags:  An Address for Everyone, Univeral Postal Union (UPU), address formats, address hygiene, S42, Global Address Data Association (GADA), address systems

The 2012 Universal Postal Union (UPU) Doha Congress ended last week.  What set this Congress apart from past Congresses was the increase in attention to addressing.  More emphasis on addressing and address systems is beneficial to all of us doing business internationally.  Better addressing systems make maintaining a database of current and potential clients and customers easier because the formats of the addresses in each country are more consistent and better understood.  As countries create systematic address systems, they may also increase the number of individual with addresses, providing those people with a new link to the global economy.

This emphasis on addressing led to the passage of two resolutions on addressing and a special session chaired by Minister Anna Tibaijuka of Tanzania.  The half-day session led to the adoption of a declaration on addressing.  Minister Tibaijuka, who is the Special Ambassador to the Addressing the World-An Address for Everyone initiative, is the Tanzanian Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development and formerly Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

The UPU initiative "Addressing the world, an address for everyone", was launched in 2009.  That initiative has emphasized and highlighted the importance of making addresses and address systems available to everyone.  It is creating alliances and collaborations between international organizations, non-profit groups, academia, regional groups and national governments to further this goal.  Having an address provides many social and governmental benefits.  An interesting and informative white paper was issued in conjunction with the Congress and the special session.
The resolutions passed at the Doha Congress set the stage for more and important developments in addressing.  Governments are urged to create national address databases and to provide access to them, a development which would allow address hygiene for many more countries.  (I have written often of the importance of international address hygiene.)  In addition to promoting addressing systems, they propose an international change-of-address system and international address verification before mailing.  These would be major steps forward to reducing the costs of non-deliverable international mail.  The Global Address Data Association's executive director has written more extensive report on the Doha Congress's work on addressing.
The details on how and when all of this will have an effect on the real world of international business mailers remains to be seen but there are encouraging signs.  The UPU's white paper mentioned above covers some of them.  The continuing work on the Standard S42: International postal address components and templates is also improving international addressing information availability.  And, of course, WorldVu publishes the Guide to Worldwide Address Formats and Best Practices for International Mailings: A Guide for Business Mailers.