The Long Road to IRENA

The WCRE has been the main driving force behind the establishment of an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which was finally established on 26 January 2009.

Initiative for IRENAThe establishment of IRENA is a huge success. Hermann Scheer as President of EUROSOLAR and General Chair of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) has brought up the idea to found an IRENA already in 2001 and has been speaking in favour of the Agency’s establishment ever since. Read our press release and the speech by Hermann Scheer.

The WCRE advanced the proposal to establish IRENA in spite of doubts that were expressed repeatedly and obstacles that turned up along the way. Together with EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy, the WCRE was the first, and for many years, the only non-governmental organisation that campaigned for IRENA. The agency is now getting ready to start its crucial work. As an International Governmental Organisation, IRENA will create a level playing field for the acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy everywhere. The agency will be instrumental in overcoming the persistent bias of international organisations in favour of atomic and fossil energies. We are proud that our campaign finally succeeded; in these 19 years, it was necessary to repeatedly push the idea forward and to encourage an increasing number of supporters worldwide.


In 2001 the WCRE hosted the International Impulse Conference for the Creation of IRENA "Promoting Global Transfer Activities for Renewable Energy". 400 participants from countries all over the world adopted a final Memorandum on IRENA. In 2004 the International Parliamentary Forum on Renewable Energies, chaired by WCRE chair Hermann Scheer, with 300 members of parliament from 70 countries present called for the establishment of IRENA. The German Government has, in his coalition agreement dating from 2005, made the IRENA initiative its own. Two resolutions of the German Parliament supported the establishment of IRENA in 2003 and 2008.

Discussions conducted with governments spanning the world’s regions since spring 2007 have demonstrated that numerous countries welcome the IRENA initiative and would like to be involved in setting up the Agency. At the invitation of the German Federal Government, representatives of 60 countries met in Berlin, Germany, on 10 / 11 April 2008 to attend the Preparatory Conference for the Foundation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). At the conference, representatives expressed their overall support for the foundation of IRENA. On 30 June / 1 July 2008, the German Federal Government hosted two workshops in Berlin, Germany, that addressed IRENA's initial working programme and its statutes & finances. WCRE press release.

IRENA LogoAt the Final Preparatory Conference for IRENA hosted by the Spanish Government on 23 / 24 October 2008, in Madrid, Spain, more than 50 states attended. About 150 representatives from industrialised and developing countries finalised discussions on IRENA's Statutes and thus paved the way for IRENA to be founded in January 2009 in Bonn (Germany). WCRE press release. IRENA was officially established in Bonn on 26 January 2009. 125 delegations attended the Founding Conference and a total of 75 nations, both developing and industrialised, signed the Agency’s Statute. This number increased considerably in the meantime. Please find the current list of Signatories here.

At the second session of the Preparatory Commission, the Agency’s interim body, on 29 and 30 June 2009 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, member states elected Mrs. Hélène Pelosse as the first head of IRENA and designated Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, as the Agency's interim headquarters.

On 4 April 2011 designated Director-General Adnan Amin from Kenya was sworn in as Director-General of IRENA at the First Session of the Assembly of IRENA.

long road to irenaWith the Innovation and Technology Centre (IITC) in Bonn, Germany, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, opened its European arm to work on a framework for renewable energy technology development, deployment support while looking into competitiveness and markets for renewables on a global scale, on the one hand. On the other hand the IITC aims to lay out scenarios and strategies that would allow the countries examined to use renewable energy adapted to their needs. The IITC opening ceremony was held at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Petersberg on 7 October 2011.

For more information about the history of IRENA please visit

You can order the documentation "The long road to IRENA" on the commitment of WCRE and EUROSOLAR to bring about the formation of IRENA. Please get in touch with us via the contact form.

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