IRENA wooed by US as it works to appoint new leader

After the shock departure of its Director General, Helene Pelosse, in November, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has been working hard to appoint her replacement as soon as possible. A recent visit by Hillary Clinton is a sign of the US’s interest in playing a major part in IRENA's future.

Despite the set-back of losing its leader in November, IRENA got off to a flying start in 2011, with a rapid succession of countries (Australia, Malaysia, Ecuador and the Principality of Monaco) seeing in the new year by ratifying the Agency’s treaty.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently commended IRENA's goals towards accelerating the rapid development and deployment of renewable energy worldwide. “This is the first truly international organisation to be headquartered in the Middle East, and we have high hopes that it will provide a link between developed and developing countries in sustainable energy production. And we want it to be a truly global organisation,” she said during a recent visit to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi where the Agency is based.

While Pelosse’s interim replacement – Kenyan development economist and seasoned UN official Adnan Amin – has been working hard to continue IRENA’s work, it is important that the Agency appoints a new Director General as soon as possible. The deadline for submission of applications ended on 7 January, and IRENA is now immersed in reviewing the plethora of applications received from around the world.

24 candidates through to next round

It is thought that 69 candidates have applied for the post vacated by Pelosse, 24 of whom (only three women and 21 men) ranging from 40 to 72 years of age have passed the first stage of selection. According to the invite to apply for the post, candidates must have vision and leadership; be a team and consensus builder, have an ability to establish and maintain high-quality interpersonal relationships in a diverse, multicultural environment; and be able to effectively address highly contentious issues.

The United States, with four names, is the country with the largest number of candidates who hope to fit the bill, followed by India and Germany, with three candidates each. Hillary Clinton’s visit to Abu Dhabi and words of support for the Agency will not have gone un-noticed and may strengthen the four American candidate’s chances in the title race.

The Acting Interim Director General who attended the Secretary of State’s visit to the Institute said that: "The US joining IRENA (28 June 2009) was a clear signal to the world that renewable energy, energy security, and reduction of carbon emissions are high on the global agenda," adding that: “It was also a clear testament to the importance the US is placing on addressing the challenges of sustainable development and poverty reduction through ensuring that the deployment of renewable energy benefits developed and developing nations alike.”

The four American, three German and three Indian candidates are up against others from: Spain, Kuwait, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Venezuela, Japan, the UAE, Indonesia, the Ukraine, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and France.

The first session of IRENA’s General Assembly will take place on 4 and 5 April 2011, when the Agency will reveal who will be appointed as its new Director General.

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