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!

Plenary 1: Progress since the 4th ERP 2019 based on the outputs from the 4th ERP in November 2019. Findings and subsequent actions at EU and national levels. Reports from the European Institutions and ERP Partners.

Welcome Moderator: Tom Jones OBE - President, European Rural Community Alliance, ERP Steering Group

Report from the European Institutions:

Report from the European Rural Parliament

Report from the European Rural Youth Parliament

Report from ERP National Partners


Plenary 2: The Changing context - Changes since 2019 which set a new context for rural areas

Moderator: Prof. Mark Shucksmith - Director of ERCA, Trustee of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), Newcastle University

Insights from research and innovation on future trends

Covid-19 - implications for rural communities and policy

Climate change - rural impacts, local action and policy

Questions and Answers

Breakouts: The Key Issues - Thematic groups to identify key issues for the coming period

Plenary 3: Looking to the future! Where are the new directions and how do we engage with these, including at the 2022 ERP?

1. Climate change - communities as instruments of transition

2. Localism - local empowerment and governance

3. Youth - role in local development and policy decisions

4. EU Neighbouring Countries - relationships with the EU

5. Digitisation - digital divide, just transition

6. Wellbeing economy - Circular economy

7. Tourism - benefits, impacts and community led solutions

 Questions and Answers

Conclusions: Main findings and next steps for ERP and its Partners

Questions and Answers

Welcome to the 5th ERP in Poland

Final conclusion Michel Dower