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!

Rural development is a very important issue for all Western Balkan countries, because of the significant number of rural population, huge rural territories and contribution of agriculture in economy of the countries.

Based on the huge experience of national rural parliaments across Europe, the national rural development networks members of the Balkan Rural Development Network and the Development Foundation of Turkey, organised the First Balkan Rural Parliament from 26th – 28th June 2018 in Vrnjačka Banja (Serbia). The First Balkan Rural parliament was supported by project “ALTER – Active Local Territories for Economic development of Rural Areas “, funded by European Union.

The Declaration was adopted at the First Balkan Rural Parliament and it is addressed to governments and inter-governmental institutions of the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, and to all stakeholders who can contribute to the well-being of rural communities in these countries.
Link: http://www.balkan-noborder.com/vest/first-balkan-rural-parliament-was-held