Just Green Transition(s) in the Western Balkans: Pathways towards conceptualization and contextualization


  • Fiona Imami Polis University, Tirana
  • Anila Bejko Polis University, Tirana
  • Kejt Dhrami Polis University, Tirana


transitions, purposive, Western Balkan Countries, shifting, mapping policies




Over the past decades, with accelerated warming affecting all countries in the world, the Western Balkans region has well significantly impacted by climate change, pollution, and its various environmental consequences. The lack of adaptation measures towards environmental challenges, poses on the other hand, risks such as economic losses, health impacts, and water scarcity.

On a global scale, the concept and approach of "Just Green Transition" are being introduced and embraced. Yet, as “transition” itself signals epochal change to various degrees, it unfolds at the same time uncertain futures for the affected economies, societies, and even the environment itself. It is in this fragile position that the WBs progress slowly towards transitioning, hindered especially by post-socialism transition legacies.

From a theoretical standpoint, the term "transition" denotes a dynamic process involving change, development, or transformation from one state, condition, or phase to another, extensively applied across disciplines such as economics, sociology, political science, and environmental studies [(Schumpeter, 1943), (Bridges, 2003), (Geels, 2002)] embracing a spectrum of shifts that can be gradual or sudden, deliberate or spontaneous, manifesting on scales ranging from the individual to societal or systemic contexts. For the WB countries, the term ‘transition’, was largely employed among scholars in political sciences and policy-makers as a concept encompassing the historical period after the fall of communism, to the extent that it would be used to label these countries as ‘transition countries’.

In this context, this paper explores the complexities of conceptualizing JGT in the WB, considering the region's contextual factors, societal preparedness, and the challenges of achieving a purposive transition. The EU's Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is a crucial framework, yet the region lags in climate action, lacking a comprehensive approach and awareness. To address this gap, the paper aims to provide an overview of JGT in the WB, emphasizing the preparatory phase, societal roles, and economic impacts. It acknowledges the theoretical gaps in defining transition and justice while advocating for societal inclusion in envisioning localized Green Transition objectives.

Methodologically, the paper delves into theoretical concepts, summarizes WB's Green Transition efforts, and outlines key elements for a just and inclusive transition. Subsequently, the paper offers insights into green transition policies, stakeholders, and practices in Albania (AL), Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA), Montenegro (ME), North Macedonia (MK), and Serbia (RS), through a mapping process and employing a stakeholder network analysis tool.

This paper contributes to understanding the endogenous potential for JGT in the Western Balkans, highlighting contextual factors influencing innovation trajectories. The paper recognizes its originality in bridging theoretical concepts with empirical insights, but it also acknowledges limitations in achieving full case comparisons. The implications extend to policy recommendations for a just and inclusive green transition, emphasizing social justice and sustainability in the region's development trajectory.


Bridges, W. (2003). Managing Transitions: Making the most of change. Da Capo Press.

Geels, F. W. (2002). Technological Transitions as Evolutionary Reconfigurations Processes: A multi-level perspective and a case-study. In Research Policy 31 (8-9) (pp. 1257-1274).

Schumpeter, J. A. (1943). Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. UK: George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1976.