Michael Dower

WhatsApp Image 2022 11 10 at 16.18.42

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!

I have the pleasure once more to participate in the forum, organized by Regional Rural Development, Standing Working Group, SWGRRD which is the forum for cooperation in South Eastern Europe, SEE, Western Balkan countries. This time the Forum was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of North Macedonia in the place Ohrid.

The title for the Forum 2019 is “Contribution of Diversification of Economic Activities to Sustainable Rural Development in SEE”. Three workshops is held.
- Diversification of economic activities in rural areas in SEE
- Harmonization of wine regulation in SEE for enhanced competitiveness of the wine sector
- Research capacities – factor of sustainable development in rural areas in SEE

This cooperation in Western Balkan countries for agriculture and rural areas is of course so important for not only the region, it is for whole Europe and EU. Listening to the debate we see more similarities than differences. So interesting.

During the forum the strategic plan for SWG 2021-2025 was presented. After the summary reports from the workshop the formulation of the Ohrid Agenda 2019 will be adopted.

When the meeting is ended you can find more information and the adopted declaration on the homepage: www.seerural.org
Some participants here will also attend our coming ERP in November.

Staffan Nilsson
ERCA and Rural Sweden