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!

Young People for the Future of Sustainable Rural Development

In cooperation with the Latvian Rural Forum, Forum Synergies is offering an exchange programme for young people who want to experience sustainable rural development.
You want to host a trainee? - Get in touch! You’re looking for a host? - Get in touch!


You can find all relevant information here

We are addressing both

  • young people involved in rural development activities, who want to discover or improve their knowledge and their know-how in a particular field of sustainable rural development, and
  • organizations or entrepreneurs from rural areas, who would like to host young people to transmit them a particular knowledge and to share their experience.

The Scholarship Programme offers to the trainee to discover and learn from the experiences and practices of people and organisations dedicated to sustainable local and rural development, while spending a time in a place of his choice (according to the hosts availability).

Timing and Duration
This Forum Synergies scholarship programme period starts in April 2019 up to November 2019.
The scholarship should last ideally 1 month. A minimum of 2 weeks and maximum up to three months can be discussed on the basis of the proposed work programme and funds available.

Follow up
After taking part in the Scholarship Program, both, trainees and hosts, will be invited also to participate in European Rural Parliament to share the scholarship experience and for hosts it will be a possibility to promote their actions to interested public. Trainees will also be invited to participate in the European Rural Youth Parliament (9-11 November 2019, Cantabria, Espagne)