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!
The European Rural Parliament ERP is a platform to link and express the voice of rural people in Europe and to promote self-help and action by rural people, in partnership with civil society and governments. The ERP collects information, ideas, case studies and policy suggestions from rural people across Europe. This information forms the basis for advocacy with European and national institutions.
ERP thematic platforms give an opportunity for networking, cooperating, learning and enabling partnerships around chosen themes. The platforms are coordinated and open for participation, respecting the guiding principle of giving a thematic voice for rural citizens for a better quality of life. If you are willing to join existing themes or initiate another theme, contact the ERP-team.
Under this page you can follow the activity of ERP-themes within the ROAD-project (Rural opinions, Advocacy and Development) and possibly other themes initiated within the ERP-framework. The developed themes should be connected to ERP-guiding documents, the Manifesto, Declaration and/or Action Programme.
Follow the ROAD project themes and participate in their activities:
Young rural people and rural youth organisations develop and enlarge the youth network within ERP by organising events and animation leading to the second European Rural Youth Parliament. A youth´s declaration based on collected information will be presented in the main ERP-Gathering in Asturias. Feel free to join the network and partnership to give a voice for rural youth.
Connecting with research
The aim is to connect research and local stakeholders (ERP) for stronger evidence-based advocacy, networking and partnerships in rural development. Research material is being compiled and the research network developed within ERP-partnership by researchers and actors interested in local, place-based development. Suggestions for future activities linking reaearchers and young researchers to the process.
Communities, NGO´s, small enterprises and farms as partners in local economy
ERP looks for integrative partnership models for local economy involving different sectors and actors for the common good of the territory, especially in remote areas. Cases, studies and analysis will support the suggestions for actions and policies. It is about to find, develop and disseminate potential for improving living conditions through dedicated cooperation between civil society, small farmers, entrepreneurs and administration. Also community entrepreneurship – social entrepreneurship is beeing analysed.
Communities development and volunteering
Within this theme different private or public support systems for communities and rural citizens are analysed through case-studies on community consultants, village ombudsmen and/or elders activities. The social and economical impact of voluntary contribution by rural citizen’s is aslo discussed and analysed. The activities provide the basis for policy suggestions at national and European level.
LEADER/CLLD for citizens and for the European Union
Europe is losing the connection with its citizens. The project aims to find answers for a more participative, inclusive, advocative citizens role in local rural matters in a partnership context. The CLLD approach could be the solution: case-studies, impact assessment and obstacle-analysis are done and supported by discussions at different levels. The suggestions/tools/strengthened CLLD potentially form a basis for a citizen´s initiative supported by the ROAD actors and the ERP-network.
A special UK event will enable ERP partners in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland to demonstrate their commitment to European relations and having a voice in Europe. Partners consider the situation of rural development post-Brexit and future working relations with EU countries. Information, case studies, policy information, local views, etc. will be shared by partners across the UK and through the wider ERP network of partner in 40 countries. It will be used to help UK rural movements to maintain their European links and inform debate on future policy and local action at national and EU level and will also feed into the EC work on Smart Villages.
ERP theme work
ERP is about the voice of rural people and communities, theme work should support it
ERP is about advocacy for rural people and communities, theme work should collect ideas, processes, cases, support systems, obstacles, research, legislation supporting the well-beeing of rural people.
ERP is a partnership and friendship where you meet others, learn from each other, cooperate with others. The ERP theme platform provides the place for networking, learning and project partnerships.
1. Choose a theme you would like to coordinate yourself or with others. The aim is to create and develop the theme within the ERP platform
2. Keep in mind that it must be an open network for participants
3. Invite others to join the network
4. Follow thematic (policy) activities in EU
5. Collect information, cases aso… for potential use in ERP advocacy work
6. Follow and report shortly on thematic events
7. Inform others on positive, negative changes (EU/National)
8. Look for project partnerships and funding opportunities
9. Participate and contribute to the ERP biennial Gathering
The theme coordinator should be in contact with the coordinators and the steering group about possible reports, policy suggestions or papers resulting from the theme work. This is a phase of establishing and developing the thematic discussion/advocacy/partnership networks. Each theme should aim at the above mentioned objectives, principles and tasks, each participant keeping their own independant activity.
Contact the ERP-team if you want to initiate and develop a theme within the ERP-partnership