Global Energy Governance: A Review and Research Agenda

12 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2016

See all articles by Thijs Van de Graaf

Thijs Van de Graaf

Ghent University

Jeff Colgan

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Date Written: January 2016


Over the past few years, global energy governance (GEG) has emerged as a major new field of enquiry in international studies. Scholars engaged in this field seek to understand how the energy sector is governed at the global level, by whom and with what consequences. By focusing on governance, they broaden and enrich the geopolitical and hard-nosed security perspectives that have long been, and still are, the dominant perspectives through which energy is analysed. Though still a nascent field, the literature on GEG is thriving and continues to attract the attention of a growing number of researchers. This article reviews the GEG literature as it has developed over the past 10 years. Our aim is to highlight both the progress and limitations of the field, and to identify some opportunities for future research. The article proceeds as follows. First, it traces the origins of the GEG literature (section “Origins and roots of GEG research”). The subsequent sections deal with the two topics that have received the most attention in the GEG literature: Why does energy need global governance (section “The goals and rationale of global energy governance”)? And, who governs energy (section “Mapping the global energy architecture”)? We then address a third question that has received far less attention: How well or poor is energy governed (section “Evaluating global energy governance”)? In our conclusions (section “Conclusions and outlook”), we reflect on the current state of GEG, review recent trends and innovations, and identify some questions that warrant future consideration by scholars. This article is published as part of a thematic collection on global governance.

Suggested Citation

Van de Graaf, Thijs and Colgan, Jeff, Global Energy Governance: A Review and Research Agenda (January 2016). Palgrave Communications, Vol. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Thijs Van de Graaf (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

Universiteitstraat 8
Ghent, 9000


Jeff Colgan

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics