In March 2022, Members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) launched the Collaborative Framework on Critical Materials for the Energy Transition through which IRENA aims to provide an inclusive platform to foster dialogue, coordinate activities on various topics, strengthen peer-to-peer exchanges and collaborations, increase transparency and develop a set of insights into the gaps and solutions for the energy transition that relies on critical materials.
Climate-neutral energy systems require significant amounts of critical minerals including lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements (REEs) for renewable energy installations and storage solutions. As climate goals get more ambitious and renewables become an indispensable pillar of net-zero commitments, prices of raw materials have started to surge. A combination of strategies will be needed to ensure the timely availability and affordability of these critical materials worldwide, while maintaining sustainability. Technological innovation and material substitution can contribute to the reduction of demand. However, a rapid but sustainable expansion of mining and processing capacity for critical materials is a priority to ensure supply for years to come.
Working groups under the new framework aim to enhance understanding of the market situation and outlook; develop strategies to de-risk the supply of critical materials and raise acceptance for new more sustainable mining projects.
Peru and the United Kingdom have been elected as Co-Facilitators of the Collaborative Framework for a period of one year with possibility to be extended to a second year.
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The following modalities were discussed and approved by the Members:
- Meetings of the Collaborative Framework will be open-ended to all IRENA Members and States in Accession. Members of the private sector, associations, research communities, International Governmental Organisations and Non-governmental Organisations, among others, involved in this thematic area of work will also be invited to participate.
- The Facilitator/Co-Facilitators will be selected from the Membership, will coordinate the deliberations of the Collaborative Framework, and may serve for a period of one year with the possibility of a one-year extension.
- Internal working groups
- The Collaborative Framework may, as needed, form a group(s) of core members to support in-depth discussions on specific topics of interest.
- Should a number of Members share an interest in a particular topic, they can submit a request to the IRENA Secretariat. The request will then be brought into the Collaborative Framework for the Members to decide whether to proceed with it. Should the request go forward, participation in the working group would be possible for all interested Members. Members also noted that the number of working groups should be limited, as capacities and resources are already limited.
- The Facilitator/Co-Facilitators will report to one IRENA Council per year, or more as may be necessary, to inform the Membership on advances made with its workplan. Such reports may focus on experience and best practices identified, recommendations on specific thematic areas of work, areas of research, technical reports, etc.
- High-Level meetings
- Ministerial/High-Level meetings of the Collaborative Framework may be held, as necessary, in the context of the work of the Assembly, annually preceding or post-Assembly, as mandated by - and in the context of - the work of the Assembly.