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!
Maintaining UK Rural Links with Europe
Altogether 14 events and one online survey and one webinar with a total of 384 participants from five countries have been carried out within this project. The purpose of the project was to bring together ERP partners in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in order to demonstrate commitment to European relations and to enable a voice in Europe.
Participants had to answer following 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? UK countries held separate meetings and events to answer these questions. The survey that received 171 responses was used to find out how people felt about Brexit and its perceived impacts, their understanding of the funding their communities had received from the EU and opinions on the future of funding. Find below the workshop summaries.
The reports combined with the survey lead to the main reports of the UK links process. All the results were discussed and presented at the 4th ERP Gathering in Asturias 6-9.11.2019.