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 ERP has National Partners in 40 countries within the wider Europe:

Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, UK: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.

For information on each partner organisation click this link

For a map of partner locations click this link

National Partners are membership-based civil society organizations. Their membership structure varies between countries, including:

  • rural village movements with wide membership of the rural communities – gathered at local, regional and national levels to support rural areas and people
  • a forum or network of national or regional organisations representing different sectors of rural society, each with its own membership
  • networks of Local Action Groups (LAGs) - partnerships between private, civil and public sectors, operating with the LEADER method, to offer advice and support to rural entrepreneurs, communities and voluntary groups, which serve many thousands of rural citizens.

Through these membership structures, the partner organisations have both a commitment, and a built-in mechanism, to disseminate information, ideas, practical examples and support to and from rural communities and citizens across Europe. 


National Partners



Albanian Network for Rural Development, ANRD




Development Principles NGO, Armenia


LEADER-forum Austria


International Foundation on Rural Development


Sustainable development Centre

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Network for Rural development in Bosnia and Herzegovina


STEP, Society for Territorial and Environmental Prosperity


Croatian Rural Development Network – HMRR  


Troodos Network of Thematic Centers

Czech Republic

National Network of Local Action Groups in the Czech Republic 


Council of Rural Districts – (Landsdistrikternes Fællesråd LDF)

England (UK)

Action with Communities in Rural England - ACRE


Estonian Village Movement – Kodukant (MTÜ Eesti Külaliikumine)


Village Action Association of Finland (Suomen kylätoiminta ry, SYTY)


LEADER France (la Fédération des GAL de France)


Civil Development Agency (CiDA)


Federal working group of LEADER Action Groups  (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der LEADER)


Village Movement Brandenburg (Dorfbewegung Brandenburg Netzwerk)


Greek LEADER Network


Rural Workshop Foundation (representing Hungarian Rural Network)


Islandic Landsbyggȏin Lifi


Irish Rural Link


Network of Organisations for Rural Development of Kosovo


Latvian Rural Forum (Latvijas Lauku forums)


Lithuanian Rural Communities Union

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia  


Pro Cooperare Regională NGO


Network for Rural Development of Montenegro


Landelijke Vereniging voor Kleine Kernen LVKK

Northern Ireland  UK

Rural Community Network


Polish Forum on the Animation of Rural Areas  




Civitas Foundation for Civil Society

Scotland  UK

Scottish Rural Action


Network for Rural Development of Serbia  


Rural Parliament in Slovakia (Vidiecky parlament na Slovensku VIPA)


Slovenian Rural Development Network


Spanish Network for Rural Development (REDR)


Cordinacao Rural de Catalunya


Hela Sverige ska leva (HSSL)


Development Foundation of Turkey (Türkiye Kalkınma Vakfı)


National Ecological Centre of Ukraine

Wales UK

PLANED (Pembrokeshire Local Action Network for Enterprise and Development)