Luca Barbieri

Luca Barbieri

Affiliated member


Luca’s research is positioned at the intersection of the disciplinary fields of geopolitics, international development studies, and international relations. Specifically, his research is concerned with the geopolitics of the energy transition and addresses the relationship between Chile and the European Union with regard to the supply of lithium resources from the former to the latter.

By means of a neorealist lens of analysis, Luca investigates how sustainability and geopolitical ambitions and concerns – especially declined as energy security and batteries’ global value chain issues – clash or intertwine, both for each actor and in their relation, with the procurement of minerals. Classified by the European Union as a ‘critical raw material’, lithium sourcing and employment is expected to play an ever-growing influence in energy geopolitics, for instance in the production of EVs and the delivery of green transport systems and electric grids. As such, Luca’s research frames lithium, conceived as a geopolitical asset, at the center of international competition, and questions whether its scaled-up extraction and supply stands in support or in contradiction with Chile’s and EU’s sustainability claims and ambitions.


Provided his interest in lithium conceived as a ‘critical raw material’ and potential geopolitical asset within the framework of the international energy transition, Luca spent five months in the Chilean capital, being it the political core of the country’s decision-making, with the aim to investigate government’s perspective on lithium governance as much as current and, most of all, its coveted position in future lithium energy geopolitics and global value chain. Between November 2022 and February 2023 he joined the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, headquartered in Santiago, as a research intern, where he received assistance with his research by collaborating with researchers and consultants with established experience on lithium issues within the Andean region. He is currently continuing to pursue his investigation from the Netherlands, where he is based and enrolled as a master student at the University of Amsterdam. In the upcoming months and until May 2023, Luca aims to travel to Brussels, Belgium, to interview European Union’s policy-makers and negotiators dealing with lithium supply concerns in relation to Chile and the recently updated EU – Chile Association Agreement.


Luca holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Trento, Italy, where he graduated cum laude, as a member of the college of merit ‘Bernardo Clesio’ with a thesis addressing the contemporary Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and its roots in the colonial practices of the British empire. During his bachelor studies, Luca spent eight months as an Erasmus student at the University of York, United Kingdom, where he explored the fields of development and critical border studies.

At the present time, Luca is pursuing a Research Master’s in International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam, where he is specializing in the field of energy and environment. During his fieldwork time in Santiago, Chile, he worked as a research intern at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), within the Non-renewable Resources Unit of the Natural Resources Division, where he worked on the most recent literature on lithium governance in the Andean region.