2 Renewable Energy L. & Pol'y Rev. 251 (2011)
The International Renewable Energy Agency: A Global Voice for the Renewable Energy Era

handle is hein.journals/relp2011 and id is 259 raw text is: The International Renewable Energy Agency   251

The International Renewable Energy Agency:
A Global Voice for the Renewable Energy Era?
Glen Wright*
The International Renewable Energy Agency1 held the first session of its Assembly as
a fullyfledged international organisation in April 2011. This article aims to introduce
the Agency and provide a basis for ongoing academic comment, discussion and analysis
as the Agency establishes itself and progresses its substantive work. The paper will
briefly outline the origins of the Agency, its institutional arrangements and key elements
of its Statute, and consider the first budget and work programme. The paper will note
some points of interest that warrant further discussion before outlining the Agency's
activities to date and assessing the potential contribution the Agency can make to the
development of renewables.

I. Introduction
The world faces unprecedented energy challenges.
The threat posed by global warming necessitates
the decarbonisation of our energy system, yet an
explosion in population growth means ever-rising
demand, strains on supply, and rising energy prices.
Energy poverty and disparity are critical issues and
over 8o % of all energy used worldwide comes from
non-renewable sources,2 which are unevenly dis-
tributed and quickly depleting. The Intergovern-
mental Panel on Climate Change recently reaf-
firmed the role of renewable energy in confronting
Glen W. Wright is a Research Assistant at the University of
South Wales. The author wishes to thank Dr. David Leary at the
University of New South Wales and Eleanor Browne for their
comments on early drafts of this paper.
1 Referred to as IRENA or the Agency in this article.
2 IRENA, 'Fact Sheet: 1 , May 2011, available on the Internet at
<http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu-cat&PriMenuID-47
&CatID-73> (last accessed on 20 December 2011 ).
3 Ottmar Edenhofer et al., Special Report Renewable Energy Sources,
Summary for Policy Makers (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2011).
4 IRENA Founding Conference (Bonn: 26 January 2009).
5 Statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA),
Bonn, 26 January 2009, in force 8 July 2009, Doc.
IRENA/FC/Statute, Art. X.C.
6 For a list of current numbers, see IRENA, Updates on Ratification
& Signatories, available on the Internet at <http://www.irena.org/
menu/index.aspx?mnu cat&PriMenul D-46&Catl D-67>
(last accessed on 25 June 2011).

these challenges, stating that renewables have a
large potential to mitigate climate change and can
contribute to social and economic development,
energy access, energy security, and reduce negative
impacts on the environment and health.3
The International Renewable Energy Agency
was established in January 2009.4 IRENA      has
attracted widespread support and agreement infre-
quently seen on the international stage: to date
149 states have signed the Statute of the Agency5
and 85 states have ratified the Treaty.6 In April
2011, IRENA held the first session of its Assembly.
This is an important milestone in the Agency's
development, as it signifies the end of its establish-
ment phase, its birth as an international organisa-
tion, and the beginning of its substantive work
towards the fulfilment of its mandate.
This paper will first outline the origins and
antecedents of the Agency and its institutional
arrangements. Secondly, the Statute and aims of
IRENA will be set out, followed by a detailed sum
mary of the current work programme. This paper
will then identify some key issues of interest, focus
ing on the Agency's relationship with the United
Nations (UN), International Energy Agency (IEA)
and other bodies, and the Agency's strategic focus.
The Agency's activities to date will be outlined and
this paper considers whether the Agency is heading
in the right direction in terms of navigating the
challenges it faces. This paper will then assess the

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