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!

efc logo letter left cutThe Finnish Village Movement Association implemented the ROAD project in cooperation with ELARD, ERCA and PREPARE 1.8.2018-31.1.2020. The project was financed by the Europe for Citizens programme.

Communities and Volunteering web report

Within the ROAD project Kodukant (Estonia) and ERCA assisted by Polish, Scottish, Finnish, Swedish and Kosovar rural development organisations organised or participated in 7 events involving 722 participants from 23 countries. The main event was arraged in Estonia by Kodukant in Räpinä July 2019. During the project supportive documents were created on the rights and possibilities of rural citizen in EU and Europe.

Different private or public support systems for communities and rural citizens and analysed through case-studies eg. on community consultants, village ombudsmen and/or village elders activities. The social and economic impact of voluntary contribution by rural citizen’s was also discussed and analysed. The impact is big but not enough recognized in value or in politics.

The activities of the ROAD project provided the basis for policy suggestions at national and European level.  The process was concluded in the 4th European Rural Parliament in Asturias beginning of November 2019. At the Gathering many workshops were related to rural communities. Find below enablers, barriers, cases and policy suggestions on communities´ development discussed at the Gathering.


Two more specific issues were also tackled. Firstly, it is important increase understanding of EU and to better connect EU with its rural citizens. Secondly, climate change is evident. One solution is to develop energy efficient communities.