Since its creation in 1974, the IEA has provided a flexible structure - the Implementing Agreement (IA) mechanism - that allows for international collaboration in energy technology research and development (R&D) and deployment. Through these IA networks, of which there are currently more than forty, experts from governments, industries, businesses, and international and non-governmental organisations from both IEA member and non-member countries unite to address common technology challenges and share the results of their work.
As recent IEA analyses have consistently highlighted, the world is facing unprecedented energy challenges. The continued use of traditional sources of energy combined with the increasing need for energy in regions with high economic growth are serving to make ever more difficult efforts to curb the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions. R&D to find new sources of energy and technologies, and to improve the efficiency of existing technologies, will be central to resolving the impasse. As highlighted in the IEA's Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013, even in spite of impressive increases in stimulus spending in several OECD countries in recent years, the average share of energy in total national R&D expenditure across OECD countries has remained disappointingly low compared to national spending in other R&D arenas such as health and defence. At the same time, recent years have witnessed growth in absolute terms in national budget allocations for energy R&D globally, as well as a rise in the share of emerging economies in global energy innovation and energy R&D. Now more than ever, significant additional efforts are needed to deploy available technologies and to continue efforts towards technology breakthroughs that will enable a sustainable energy future. Cost-effective means of energy technology R&D collaboration are essential. As such, the IEA mechanism for such co-operation - the Implementing Agreement mechanism - is arguably as relevant now as when it was created by the Governing Board 38 years ago.