Structural transitions in Albania : profit over environment?
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During the 80s and 90s, many post-communist countries underwent structural transition processes advocated by neoliberal institutions. Rapid transitions from one structure to another resulted in chaos as the implementation of sound institutions to manage new property rights regimes were insufficient. The emphasis of the transition period to open borders and integrate societies into the free market side-lined other concerns such as environmental conservation and protection. The IMF facilitated this move in Albania through structural adjustment programmes and stringent conditionality in its financial lending. The Albanian society was in deep socio-economic crisis emerging from an autocratic communist rule and the natural environment had suffered through industrial pollution and deforestation. Neoliberal restructuring failed to recognise the need for environmental rehabilitation and protection due to its ideological nature, and the pressing socio-economic situation in Albania made funds allocations difficult, resulting in further absence of environmental regulations. This research scrutinises communism and neoliberalism applied in Albania in the late 80s and 90s as insufficient systems for environmental protection. Through an analysis using urban air pollution, industrial pollution and deforestation as measurements of environmental impact of IMF policies and national policies - economic and environmental - the study calls for an alternative system to aid sustainable environmental governance. Accentuating the need for holistic approaches to structural change, with significant participation from the population on local, regional and national levels, for creating new systems which reduce negative environmental consequences as well as socio-economic problems.