Michael Dower

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Our wonderful friend, mentor and supporter, Michael Dower, sadly passed away on Monday November 7, 2022, just a week before his 89th birthday. In his lifetime, Michael was a force in European rural development. He was instrumental in developing the European Rural Parliament partnership and process, including co-ordinating and writing the foundational document ‘All Europe shall Live’, based on a survey of all of our European Partners, from which he developed the first ERP Manifesto at the 2nd ERP Gathering in Austria in 2015. These have remained our baseline documents.

In addition to the ERP, Michael’s work in rural development was extensive. He co-founded and served as coordinator of PREPARE - Pre-accession Partnership for Rural Europe, supporting the launch of many national and regional rural movements and rural parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe. He founded and served as President of ECOVAST – the European Council for the Village and Small Town. He co-founded and animated the European Agricultural Convention (EAC), now ARC2020. He was a very active member of Forum Synergies and many other European civic initiatives. He was co-creating the CURE - Convention for Urban and Rural Europe.

Prior to his post-retirement activism in European rural civil society, Michael managed the Peak District National Park in England; was Director General of the Countryside Commission for England and Wales; and was Professor of European Rural Development at the University of Gloucestershire. He edited and promoted the European Landscape Convention for the Council of Europe.

Michael was passionate about rural areas, their people, landscapes, land use and ecology. In the later years of his life, he worked tirelessly to advocate on the climate change emergency, and led local woodland management projects, working with school children, where he lived in Dorset, England.

Michael was, and is, an inspiration to us all. He urged us to be bold and brave and urgent in our work. His legacy lies within us and our continuing, collective work to support and develop rural Europe – our wonderful home.

Thank you Michael!

The ERP2013 Process

The overall process was as follows:

The process – before, during and after the 13 November

May – October Information, mobilisation and submission of proposals
November 13 The European Rural Parliament event:
  • proposals are processed and debated
  • a common statement for rural development agreed by participants
November 14 Summary, feedback and report to European Parliamentarians
Nov 14 – Dec 15 Work continues with working groups of those who express an interest at the ERP
December 15 Reports from working groups submitted – to enable implementation of the results and future plans of the ERP
January 2014 Final report and documentation disseminated

Programme

Programme ERP (PDF)

Wednesday November 13 – The European Rural Parliament
At the European Economic and Social Committee Headquarters, EESC
Rue Belliard 99, BRUSSELS

8:15 Registration – security control etc.

9:00 Welcome – Let´s talk rural!
Dilyana Slavova from EESC opens the ERP and Dacian Cioloş from the Commission will give the participants a video message.
Presentation of facilitator.

9:20 From a Glocal Perspective:
Changes, Challenges and Opportunities in Rural Areas,
Lucía Fernández de Soto, La Noguera Medicanelli, Spain.

FERNANDEZ DE SOTO FROM A GLOCAL PERSPECTIVE (PDF)

9:40 ALL Europe shall live
Prof. Michael Dower, former Co-ordinator of PREPARE.

DOWER European Rural Parliament 2013 (PDF)

10:00 The Rural Community Movement in Europe
– the moving force in rural Europe
How local people organise themselves to champion rural issues
– an introduction by Vanessa Halhead, ERCA and Goran Šoster, PREPARE followed by contributions from a variety of rural people and interaction with the audience.

HALHEAD The Rural Movement in Europe (PDF)

SOSTER Rural Parliaments GS 2013 (PDF)

10:50 Break – time to chill and chat

11:20 Think Tank for cross-fertilisation of best practices, methods, new ideas and learning.
From learning communities to think tanks.
Speakers: Peter Backa, Senior Expert and Päivi Kujala Head of Finnish Rural Network Unit.

KUJALA ERP Think Tank presentation (PDF)

11:45 Getting Down to Action – the big issues
Introduction to the proposals gathered from across Europe and to the tasks for the workshops.

INEZ Once upon a time… ERP (PDF)

INEZ ERP presentation (PDF)

12:00 Lunch – buffet

13:15 Re-balancing Territorial Development in Europe
Workshops on the proposals and preparation of statements for the plenary, including: social enterprise, the rural voice, gender, local democracy, community led local development, best practice, and others.

15:00 Break – time for a brew

15:30 Let’s take the next step!
The European Rural Parliament and the Rural Networks:
the future Allocation of tasks – Your opportunity to become actively involved and sign a “declaration of intent”.

16:50 And to conclude. . .
Concluding statements.

17:00 That’s all folks!
Close of the first European Rural Parliament in history.

ERP is bottom-up – not only in theory!