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!

Minha Terra Network, the Portuguese partner of the European Rural Parliament, that brings together all the 60 Rural Local Action Groups in Portugal, organized a meeting under the ROAD (Rural Opinions, Advocacy and Development) project, supported by the Europe for Citizens Programme, in Torre de Moncorvo, North of Portugal, at the 20th March. 

In this meeting the 64 participants, representing 40 Local Development Associations and LAGs, were informed on the European Rural Parliament activities and the final gathering in Asturias, in November. Minha Terra also informed on Conference “How to make rural areas the engines of a sustainable Europe” held by European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Rural Parliament (ERP) on March 14.

The implementation of LEADER and multi-funded CLLD in Portugal and all the constraints felt by project promoters and LAGs, were deeply analysed amongst participants at the meeting, in the perspective of the preparation of Local Development support instruments in the next programming period.

Local Development Associations and Minha Terra Network decided to prepare in the coming months “Pact for Local Development 2021-2027 to be discussed and endorsed by a large group of national, regional and local stakeholders.