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!

CLLD Portugal 01Minha Terra Network, the Portuguese partner of the European Rural Parliament, that brings together all the 60 Rural Local Action Groups in Portugal, organised a national two day meeting that addressed issues related to LEADER/CLLD, one of the ERP themes under the ROAD project. The meeting, hosted by the LAG DUECEIRA, gathered 66 participants from 42 LAGs and was held 23rd to 24th September in the small town of Lousã, located in the centre of Portugal.

 

At the meeting several points were discussed, namely the state of play of the LEADER/ CLLD in Portugal in this current programming period; the preparation of the future ahead of 2020; and an updated list of subscribers of the Local Development Pact 2030 – a document of analysis and proposals endorsed and signed by more than 1500 stakeholders – local authorities, business, civil society organizations – such as farmers, businesses or cultural associations, etc.

Looking forward to the next programming period 2021-2027, Minha Terra shared the preliminary results of a survey conducted by the Portuguese LAGs which intended to establish
• their characterization;
• the financial allocation and thematic focus of their local development strategies;
• their operational process;
• their level of satisfaction regarding CLLD 2014-2020;
• their expectations for the future CLLD 2021-2027;
• and an identification of the relative priority of each SDG (Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda) according to the LEADER/ CLLD approach.

CLLD Portugal 02Moreover, the LAGs undertook a discussion about the future and the joint operational strategy for the next EU framework. In fact, they advocated an improvement of the operationalising process of the multi-fund CLLD, based on a better coordination between funds and national bodies in charge. Finally, the LAGs started to reflect on what can be done at local level to ensure LEADER being more effective.