The countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are undergoing an economic, political and administrative transition which is reflected in shrinking gross domestic products, high unemployment and declining fertility and life expectancy. While some countries have shown signs of economic stabilization ( e.g. reduced rates of inflation and economic contraction), it will take time to establish new institutions and redefine the role of the public and private sectors.
Wasteful consumption and production patterns, long-term neglect and misdirected policies have led to serious environmental degradation. Toxic industrial pollutants affect health and agriculture. The transition to market economies calls for new regulatory and planning regimes to accommodate greater participation by non- governmental organizations and the private sector.