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!

Five ERP partners in the UK and Ireland have been working together on the ERP ROAD Project on Maintaining UK links with Rural Europe. This is a brief summary of events: 


  • The UK ROAD project hosted a workshop at the Scottish Rural Parliament in November 2018.  This built on a survey and workshops undertaken by Scottish Rural Action during the preceding months and asked four questions: Why is it important to maintain links with Europe?  What kind of links do we need to maintain? How can we do that?  Who needs to do it?   We were pleased to welcome input from a representative from Finland and Belgium at the workshop.
  • A workshop is to be held at Stalisfield Village Hall, Kent, England on 21st March 2019 where we will welcome local people and officials.  We are arranging a discussion around the four questions (mentioned above) via Zoom with representatives from ERP member organisations across Europe.  Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if you would like further details.
  • A survey, similar to the Scottish one, has been circulated across Wales, Northern Ireland, England and the Republic of Ireland which will be analysed shortly and the findings shared with the ERP.  Link to survey which has reached out and achieved 170 responses so far:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MMVS2NC
  • Successful workshops (total 200 participants) have also been held in the participating Countries.  Reports from the workshops have now been received by ACRE so that a full report can be prepared.