About Us

Urban Research Institute (URI) investigates the social and economic problems confronting the country along with the central and local government policies designed to solve them. URI’s mission in this undertaking is to raise awareness of the society and sharpen thinking about these problems and the impact of governmental policies, with the final purpose of improving the quality of decision-making and implementation at the central and local governmental level.

Urban Research Institute is a non-profit and non-governmental organization founded by a joint group of independent professionals and established by the Decision of the Court of Tirana on May 28, 1999. The highest forum is the Board of Trusties, represented by the Executive Director, who is elected by the Board. The organizational structure is composed of three main departments: (I) Development; (II) Research and (III) Finance and Administration.

URI’s general management philosophy is the decentralization of duties, authority and responsibility among the group of experts.

The group of experts prepares project proposals, conducts research, develops analysis and proposes solutions.  In response to specific requirements of its clients and the service, URI works also with part time experts.

URI’s offices are located in the downtown area of Tirana, while contacts with institutions, local experts and coordinators are established almost all over the country. The office provides the necessary equipment for a facilitated operation.

Statement of Zero Tolerance

Urban Research Institute is dedicated to transformative public policies and actions, towards the sustainable development of the country, with evidence-based, cost-efficient and bottom-up approaches, recognizing the importance of dialogue, common understanding and cooperation at all governmental and institutional levels in the country. URI’s team of senior and junior professionals of different areas share the passion for work and the integrity in carrying it out.

In support of these values, URI is committed to zero tolerance for fraud, financial mismanagement and other forms of malpractice involving employees, the executive body, the directing body, and contracted providers of goods or services, partners, funding organization, any party with which URI enters in a contractual relationship.

To ensure this, URI adopts at the internal operation level the national legal regulations: law 60, 2016 “On whistleblowing and whistle blower protection”, law 9917, 19.05.2008 “On the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing”, amended, the national list of persons declared as financers of terrorism, as updated, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) policy, Recommendation no. 8 on non-profit organizations.

Under the same commitment, URI’s internal operations will be annually improved, as required, following the continuously improving international and national policies and measures for ensuring zero tolerance for fraud, financial mismanagement and other forms of malpractice.

Scope of work
    The Urban Research Institute focuses on the following main subjects of expertise:

  • Environmental and Tourism;
  • Governance Reform;
  • Infrastructure and Public Services;
  • Social Initiatives.

Public policies are more effective when they are designed evidence-based. URI develops socio-economic analysis based only on official data from state institutions or, otherwise, data collected from field surveys conducted from URI.

Urban Research Institute does not take partial positions on socio-economic issues; the group of experts consists of independent professionals who share views and recommendations deriving from research work.

URI’s research work inspires integrity, intellectual honesty and respect among the institutions and organizations with which it cooperates, fostering innovation and constructive debate, where diversity of opinions is welcomed

URI Staff

Zana Vokopola

Executive Director

Entela Kallamata

Finance and Economics Expert, Research Department

Marinela Spahiu

Public Administration Expert, Research Department

Edlir Vokopola

Director, Planning and Development Department

Drini Nushi

Legal Expert, Research Department

Era Kraja

Environmental Sustainability Expert, Research Department

Dritan Gorica

Environmental Engineer, Planning and Development Department

Ina Janushi

Human Resources and Finance Expert, Administrative Office

Over the last 10 years I have had the opportunity to know the work of the staff at the Urban Research Institute: dedicated professionals with impartial stand, active participants in important developments of the country, such as the Administrative and Territorial Reform and the National Decentralization Strategy.

Bledar Çuçi | Minister of State for Local Issues

Significant is the fact that, despite difficulties encountered over the implementation of ArTVision: A live art Channel, considering its international dimension and complexity, their good management and persistence towards the supervisory authorities made it possible to achieve a final level of realization of 98% on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, constituting a successful story for projects of similar magnitude.

Mirela Kumbaro | Minister of Culture

URI as a partner and valuable consultant, is characterised by professionalism and fairness in the development of local development projects and delivery of final products.

Viktor Tusha | Mayor of Lezha Municipality

URI has demonstrated that it has deep knowledge of performance management and possesses professional capacities to build and operate sustainable systems, which combine the measurement and reporting of indicators of resources, products and results of development objectives and services.

Niko Peleshi | Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

For more than five years URI is the leading organization of a network of civil society organizations in Albania called Network for Environmental Services. This network aims to identify important environmental issues and address them both at local and central government level, proposing intervention and sustainable solutions for the enhancement of quality of environment.

Brian Williams | UNDP Resident Representative in Albania

URI’s projects have shown stability after their completion, which confirms the serious commitment and professionalism of the work carried out by this organization.

Romina Kuko | Deputy Minister of Interior

I express the utmost consideration and appreciation for URI’s professionalism and dedication over the years, the result of many years of experience in the field of environment, capacity building and local development planning, and cooperation with prestigious international donors.

Bashkim Shehu | Mayor of Kukës Municipality

Due to their excellent organizational skills and their professionalism, I highly recommend URI as a partner in any projects and scientific undertakings regarding service provision in Albanian municipalities.

Dr. Achim Lang | Zurich University of Applied Sciences

URI embraces a growth mindset. The staff is empowered and committed, they have a strong team work and collaboration and innovation are their strong points.

Andi Kananaj | Executive Director, Agency of Civil Society Support

With the professionalism shown in the past two decades and the commitment to raise the standard and accelerate the pace of its development, at both a local and national strategic level, URI has earned the trust of donors and that of the  Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the development of the waste management sector, on which the development of the wider environmental and tourism sectors in the country directly depends. On this basis, to fulfil the purpose of its work, the Ministry constantly seeks URI’s support as a key partner for handling environmental issues in the country.

Ornela Çuçi | Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environment

The Agricultural University of Tirana and the Urban Research Institute have exchanged both scientific and practical experience in joint efforts to guarantee sustainable land management through afforestation, sharing the best experiences and increasing the capacities of local and central actors by making a successful example of crossing academic research and practical application.

Fatbardh Sallaku | Rector of Agricultural University of Tirana

For the past year, I have received the Urban Research Institute’s assistance on numerous services, including business plan review, legal and economic analyses, capacity building, and environmental engineering. URI’s consultants showed excellent expertise, and swiftly tackled the areas that needed improvement. The results and feedback were great. It is through the use of their consultancy that we have been able to transform our business model.

Evis Gjebrea | Deputy Director, UKT
Memberships and Certifications
URI is the Advisor to the National Designated Authority of Albania to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Member of the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), Member of the Working Group of the Albanian Civil Society for Chapter 27 of the EU Acquis, Board Member of the Albanian Council of Civil Society 2017-2021.
URI holds an ISO 9001 Certificate.