Helène Pelosse

Helène Pelosse Interim Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

An interview on the birth of a new agency

On June 8, 2010, one year after HeÅLle`ne Pelosse took the job as Interim Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the new organization received the 25th ratification of its statute. “IRENA’s ratification truly is a record breaker—it is the fastest ever witnessed for such a process,” says Pelosse. The speed, she says, indicates the seriousness of the need for new energy solutions. A total of 144 countries and the European Union have already signed IRENA’s mandate. A French citizen born in Canada, Pelosse has spent the past year setting up the new agency in Abu Dhabi. She has extensive experience working in both national and international government bodies devoted to renewable energy.

What has IRENA’s first year been like? 

One year ago, I was the sole staff of IRENA and now there are 40 people working with me! When I look back at this first year of activity, I am very proud of what we have achieved, but I know there is a lot more to do. We had to get through the usual start-up process, build support functions, define the working process, and then we started to recruit renewable energy experts. One of my biggest challenges was—and still is—to manage the flow of applications coming our way. When I see the hundreds of resumes we receive, I am confident that we are attracting talent. The screening process takes time because we want the best applicants for the jobs. Still, we do it faster than any other international organization.

Have you achieved your goal of creating a genderbalanced team? Has there also been an effort to build a group that is balanced internationally?

 So far so good—we are 52 percent female! One of my commitments, as well as promoting renewable energies, is to empower women. Gender balance has been wishful thinking for years and I think that when women are in power, they have to make it happen, otherwise, who else will? It is important to me; I owe this to my grandmother. As a female scientist in the 1950s and the only female on the governing council in a French city in the 1960s, she was also keen on promoting women. She died, 96 years old, a few days after my election. As for the international balance, we have 21 nationalities on board!

What do you see as IRENA’s achievements so far? To date, how many countries have ratified IRENA? 

One of IRENA’s achievments so far is that we have raised the interest of 144 countries and the E.U. And 25 have already ratified its treaty, which...

To read the full article buy the magazine.