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.

ROAD - Connecting with research

The aim was to connect research and local stakeholders (ERP) for stronger evidence-based advocacy, networking and partnerships in rural development. Two events were organised. The main event in Ähtäri and a supportive event by young researchers in Kalmar – looking for how to use the hackathon methodology in developing circular businesses.

The main event was connected to the celebration the 20th Anniversary of MUA (NGO for Rural Development research in Finland) and co-organised by MUA and ERP. The event was held in Ähtäri, Finland 22-23.8.2019. See the programme here (​link to keeppartly in English) and the full report here.

The event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of MUA (NGO for Rural Development research in Finland) and co-organised by MUA and ERP.
The event was held in Ähtäri, Finland 22-23.8.2019. See the programme here (partly in English)

Some research results were collected to support ERP Messages.

During the Gathering in Candás a workshop on research was organised. See below the Gathering workshop material (links). Attachments 4,5,6 (WS 2, BOC, WS2 report)

 ”It is important that researchers engage with communities / stakeholders – allow scope for research ‘subjects’ to be research participants”. 

”The co-creation of knowledge, via participatory research, requires that researchers have the appropriate skills – to engage with people, Research can, and ought to, be embedded in the development process, and not just pursued to satisfy funders or ‘tagged-on’ to the end of a project or initiative” 

An ERP research network interested in local, place-based development was created. The network will get uptodate data from ERP. Common projects including villages and communities could be looked at. Research results of intererest (especially from young researches) could be published on the ERP-website.

Here you can find research from young or professional researchers related to rural development from a local perspective. Any ERP partner is invited to send studies to be published or read on the ERP website. Please send the core messageof the study and link to the full study.