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!

30th January 2019, 14h30 - ELARD Members meeting

Portuguese Permanent Representation to the European Union - Avenue de Cortenbergh,12, Brussels

On the 30th of January an ELARD Members meeting with representatives of Local Action Groups Networks was held in Brussels and part of the agenda was the ROAD thematic project “LEADER/CLLD for citizens and for the European Union”.

23 participants representing LAGs from 16 Member States had a long discussion on the future of LEADER and CLLD, in the framework post 2020 legislative proposals, both for the Common Agriculture Policy and for the Cohesion Policy.

The participants were of the opinion that the legislative proposals (for the Common Provisions, the Cohesion Policy and the CAP) should ensure that, in each Member State, a real multi-funded CLLD is possible, which has to include reinforced funding from Rural Development Fund and ring-fencing of funding in the other Funds (Regional, Social and Fisheries), they also stressed the importance of Rural Development to be part of the Common Provisions Regulation and multi-funded CLLD to be part of the Partnership Agreement of each Member State.

The achievements of LEADER/CLLD have shown that Local Action Groups (LAGs) are able to defend the European values, if recognised as local drivers for change and development and enabled to innovate in their areas, materializing the “Europe closer to citizens” objective, proposed by European Commission.
In the framework of ROAD project, ELARD will focus on presenting the added value of European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) usage via LEADER approach and will conduct a survey and collect and document case studies to show this impact. Results of this work will be presented and discussed at the 4th ERP in November, in Asturias.