The International Renewable Energy Agency: A Success Story in Institutional Innovation?


Year of publication: 2014
Author(s): Johannes Urpelainen, Thijs Van de Graaf
Appeared in: International Environmental Agreements

Link: Link to the article


This article interprets the role and significance of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in global environmental and energy governance. First, we conduct a comparative analysis of IRENA and other recent innovations in global governance, showing that IRENA stands out with regard to the timing of creation, speed of ratification, and focus of the mandate. Second, we identify three mechanisms through which IRENA can promote the global diffusion of renewable energy: (1) by offering valuable epistemic services to its member states, (2) by serving as a focal point for renewable energy in a scattered global institutional environment, and (3) by mobilizing other international institutions to promote renewable energy. Finally, we reflect on the conditions that could make IRENA’s policies a continued success and on the lessons that the experience with IRENA holds for other attempts at innovation in global governance.