Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates,
30 June 2010
One year ago, Abu Dhabi was elected as headquarters of IRENA and HéHélène Pelosse was elected as Interim Director-General. In this first year, much has been achieved for the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Significantly, membership of IRENA has doubled over the last 12 months and the Agency now has 147 signatories. A total of 26 of them have already ratified IRENA’s treaty and more are to follow shortly. As of July, 8, 2010, IRENA will be a fully fledged international organization.
“This ratification pace is truly a record breaker. Member States do their best to quicken these sometimes lengthy processes. It shows the interest they have on the Agency” says Hélène Pelosse, Interim Director-General of the Agency.
During the first year the Agency has evolved from one staff member in Hélène Pelosse- to 38 originating from 23 different countries. Another IRENA achievement is that half of the workforce is female “I committed myself to recruit 50% women and I will continue to do so in the future. I am also proud that the staff comes from so many different origins … from the UAE of course but also from Nicaragua, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine...”.
As the first international organization born in the 21st century, IRENA relies heavily on the latest high technology tools. Virtual Private Networks, Videoconference systems, e-learning platforms... The Agency has recently moved to a new Interim Headquarters equipped with state-of-the-art high tech services and infrastructure.
IRENA is also innovating and inventing a new type of governance. Six months after the Interim Director-General was elected, Member States have agreed on a very efficient way of working to tackle the key issues the Agency is adressing. For instance small working groups have been created focusing on the rules, regulations and working program of IRENA. At a later stage, they will be organized around renewable energy topics for small groups of Member States.
One example: small islands access to electricity. A subject upon which IRENA’s experts have already contributed, through the 2010-2020 Tonga Energy RoadMap. “Tonga was one of the first nations to become a member of IRENA. In June 2009, just a few days after I was elected, it was the first Member State to call me for assistance” recalls IRENA Interim Director-General Hélène Pelosse. “For the sake of stable and equitable development in the Kingdom, we urgently need to reduce our dependence on imported diesel and improve access to electricity in rural areas,” says Her Royal Highness Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita (Patron of the Tonga Energy Road Map).
Since its creation, IRENA has attracted goodwill and initiatives from all around the world. “Renewable energy stakeholders are joining forces to ensure a swift and sustainable energy transition”, comments Hélène Pelosse.
IRENA has partnered with a variety of renewable energy trade associations, such as the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). During its meeting in Turkey in June, the WWEA awarded its annual award to the founding Member States of IRENA, for “outstanding achievement”.
The Agency also started developing best practices. One example: The “Solar for all” design contest. With a selection of partners, IRENA has considered and selected designs of more cost effective solar systems for developing countries. The result of this contest will be disclosed during the Intersolar conference, held in San Francisco on July 13 to 15.
IRENA is becoming closer to Utilities providers, as successful grid integration of renewable energy is a key issue for the energy transition. IRENA is also liaising with a number of financial institutions, who have dedicated a focal point to the Agency (like regional development banks, Global Environment Facility…).
For the development of potential scenarios, IRENA is building connections between the major renewable energy research centers all over the planet. In February, IPPC – the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change- will meet in Abu Dhabi with the first Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. This underlines strong partnership of the Agency with scientific communities.
As in 2010, The World Future Energy Summit will be held in January 2011. Many stakeholders from all around the world will meet in Abu Dhabi to discuss these Major issues.
A lot more will indeed happen over the coming year. As a fully fledged international organization, IRENA will hold its first assembly and define its final institutions. Its council will be elected by the Member States that will have ratified its treaty.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the International Renewable Energy Agency is aiming to become the global voice for renewable energy, while promoting a swift transition towards its sustainable use. IRENA is assisting its Member States define their strategy across the fields of all renewable energies: bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind. The Agency has 147 members. 26 countries have ratified its treaty. On July 8, 2010, IRENA will become a fully fledged international organization.