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IRENA and IEA: Moving Together Towards a Sustainable Energy Future—Competition or Collaboration?

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The aim of this article is to critically examine, from a legal perspective, the relationship between the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The IEA was established in 1973 in response to the global oil crisis. It currently has 29 member states. Its original mandate has been expanded to include ensuring reliable, affordable, and clean energy. IRENA was established in 2009. Its main objective is to promote sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. With 138 member states, and many more in the process of accession, IRENA is becoming a truly universal organization. Both the IEA and IRENA focus their attention on sustainable energy. Is there an institutional overlap or an unnecessary duplication in scope? Are IRENA’s activities in sustainable energy, which seemingly parallel those of the IEA, justified by its aims and global reach? By addressing these and related questions, the article discusses whether the relationship between the IEA and IRENA can be seen as competition or collaboration. The relationship is analysed within the context of the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

Affiliations: 1: PhD Candidate, Erasmus University School of Law, ; 2: Reader in International Environmental Law, University of Strathclyde Law School,


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