Organisation and structure

What is the IEA?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/74 oil crisis, the initial role of the IEA was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of the Agency’s work, the IEA has evolved and expanded to encompass the full mix of energy resources. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.

What were the main objectives of the IEA when it was founded?

  • maintain and improve systems for coping with oil supply disruptions;
  • promote rational energy policies in a global context through co-operative relations with non-member countries, industry and other international organisations;
  • operate a permanent information system on the international oil market;
  • improve the world’s energy supply and demand structure by developing alternative energy sources and increasing the efficiency of energy use;
  • promote international collaboration on energy technology; and
  • assist in the integration of environmental and energy policies.

What is the relationship of the IEA with the OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development)?

The IEA is an autonomous body within the OECD framework.

How is the IEA funded?

The IEA is funded by its 29 member countries and the revenue it generates from its publications. The 2016 annual budget is EUR 27 461 886. Assessed contributions for member countries are based on a formula that takes account of the size of each member's economy. For 2016, revenues from the Agency’s publications will finance more than one-fifth of the annual budget.  With the approval of the IEA Governing Board, countries and other energy stakeholders may make voluntary contributions to support and strengthen a wide range of activities in the IEA Programme of Work and Budget; in 2015, 29% of IEA spending was financed by voluntary contributions, most of which came from government sources although the Agency does receive some funding from private sources. The Agency also receives contributions in-kind, especially in the form of Staff on loan‌.

How is the budget managed?

The size of the IEA budget and the scope of its work (also known as the Programme of Work and the budget) are determined every two years by member countries. The IEA operates within the financial framework of the OECD. Independent external auditing of the Agency’s accounts and financial management is performed by a Supreme Audit Institution of a member country, appointed by the OECD Council.

Does the IEA dispense grants or make loans?

No, unlike the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the IEA does not dispense grants or make loans.

What is the role of the Governing Board?

The Governing Board is the main decision-making body of the IEA and is composed of energy ministers or their senior representatives from each member country. The Governing Board holds three to four meetings at the Director General (or equivalent) level each year, at which it discusses global energy developments, as well as recent and future of work of the Agency, with the Executive Director and other senior Secretariat staff. The outcomes of Governing Board meetings are Conclusions, binding on all member countries.

The Governing Board also has final responsibility for administrative matters of the IEA, including approving the biennial Programme of Work and the budget.

Once every two years, ministers from member countries gather for the IEA Ministerial meeting. This meeting sets broad strategic priorities for the IEA, alongside directions offered at the regular meetings of the Governing Board. Although ministers may instruct the IEA to focus on a specific issue, the direction they provide also comes through the discussions that ensue at these meetings. Through the IEA Ministerial, the Secretariat develops ideas for existing or new work programmes, which it then discusses with member countries in various IEA committees and ultimately presents to the Governing Board for approval. The outcomes of each Ministerial are not fixed; however, some sort of political statement or communiqué is issued.

The 2015 Ministerial meeting, whose first plenary session opened with Mexico's formal declaration of interest in becoming an IEA member, led to the activation of Association status available to non-member countries (with China, Indonesia and Thailand the first to have the status) as well as member countries' declaration of an Energy and Climate Statement. The Chair of the Ministerial, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, issued a summary at the conclusion of the meeting

How does the voting system work in the IEA?

The voting system is outlined in Articles 61 and 62 of the IEA constituent document, the  International Energy Program or IEP Agreement. A majority vote is required for all decisions on the management of the IEA Programme of Work, and on procedural questions and recommendations. However, majority vote is based on a system of voting weights allocated to each member country. Unanimity is required for all other decisions than those for which a majority vote, or a special majority vote, are required. The latter is required, for example, for the activation of emergency measures specified in the IEP Agreement.

What is the role of the Standing Groups?

In addition to the Governing Board, the IEA has several Standing Committees (also known as Standing Groups), made up of member country government officials, which meet several times a year:

  • The Standing Group on Emergency Questions (SEQ) is responsible for all aspects of IEA oil emergency preparedness and collective response to supply disruptions.
  • The Standing Group on the Oil Market (SOM) monitors and analyses short- and medium-term developments in the international oil market to help IEA member countries react promptly and effectively to changes in market conditions.
  • The Standing Group on Long-Term Co-operation (SLT) encourages co-operation among IEA member countries to ensure collective energy security, improve economic efficiency of their energy sector and promote environmental protection in provision of energy services. The SLT has also established the Working Party on Energy Efficiency.
  • The Standing Group on Global Energy Dialogue (SGD) is responsible for work with countries and regions outside of the IEA membership, including China and India. Many SGD projects draw upon both regional and sectoral expertise and are carried out jointly with other IEA divisions.
  • The Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) co-ordinates and promotes the development, demonstration and deployment of technologies to meet challenges in the energy sector. The CERT has established four working parties: the Working Party on Fossil Fuels; the Working Party on Renewable Energy Technologies; the Working Party on Energy End-Use Technologies; and, the Fusion Power Co-ordinating Committee.  Experts' groups are also created under the CERT. The recently established Renewable Energy Industry Advisory Board reports to the Working Party on Renewable Energy Technologies. The IEA provides a framework for international collaborative energy research, development and demonstration projects known as IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes

The IEA also has a range of advisory bodies, some of which include private-sector and IEA non-member country representatives, with varying legal bases.

What is the IEA energy technology network?

The IEA energy technology network is comprised of the Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) as well as four working parties, and various ad hoc and expert groups established by the Committee (see What is the role of the Standing Groups? above for more information). At the core of this network of senior energy technology experts are a number of IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). These programmes enable governments, businesses, industries, international organisations and non-governmental organisations to share research on breakthrough technologies, to fill existing research gaps, build pilot plants and carry out deployment or demonstration programmes.

How does the IEA work with industry?

The IEA Energy Business Council (EBC) is an executive-level group comprised of leading international companies involved in both the supply and demand side of the energy sector, as well as financial institutions and large technology manufacturers. Founded by Executive Director Fatih Birol when he was the IEA Chief Economist, the EBC is the overarching body through which the IEA interacts with business with the following objectives:

  • Providing the IEA with a reality check of its analysis, ensuring that the Agency’s main findings are relevant for all stakeholders;
  • establishing a forum for interactive discussions among ministers and industry leaders on long-term stable policy frameworks needed to stimulate investment in sustainable energy infrastructure; and
  • providing inputs from business on the work of the IEA, particularly the World Energy Outlook.

In addition, the IEA has established two advisory groups where industry can present matters of interest to the Agency. Since 1979, the Coal Industry Advisory Board (CIAB) has permitted a group of high-level executives from coal-related industrial enterprises to provide advice to the IEA on a wide range of issues relating to coal. Since 2011, the Renewable Industry Advisory Board (RIAB), made up of private-sector entities located within OECD member countries, has informed the Working Party on Renewable Energy Technologies  and the IEA Secretariat of market-relevant information, industry advice and data.