Does the polysemic nature of energy security make it a 'wicked' problem?
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Governments around the world are expending considerable time and resources framing strategies and policies to deliver energy security. The term "energy security" has quietly slipped into the energy lexicon without any meaningful discourse about its meaning or assumptions. An examination of explicit and inferred definitions finds that the concept is inherently slippery because it is polysemic in nature having multiple dimensions and taking on different specificities depending on the country (or continent), time frame or energy source to which it is applied. But what does this mean for policy makers? Can traditional policy approaches be used to address the problem of energy security or does its? polysemic qualities mean that it should be treated as a "wicked" problem? To answer this question, the paper assesses energy security against nine commonly cited characteristics of wicked policy problems and finds strong evidence of "wickedness".
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