The Michael Dower Award for European Rural Resilience

The late Michael Dower photographed by Udo Reinschke

This weekend, our sights are set on England. The Michael Dower Award for European Rural Resilience will be launched in honour of the late European Englishman, at an event dedicated to his life and work, in the Peak District National Park on Saturday April 22nd.

Michael Dower, who co-founded the European AgriCultural Convention which later became ARC2020, passed away in November of last year. Michael believed in European cooperation and Britain’s place in Europe – a passionate advocate for rural communities and a sustainable way of living, an inspiring teacher, Michael was very much a man of action.

Objectives of the Award

The award aims to encourage civic action in rural areas in the wider Europe which:

  • Preserves nature and cultural heritage
  • Strengthens peace
  • Empowers rural people and their civil society organisations to take their destiny into their own hands

The Michael Dower Award for European Rural Resilience will be awarded to individuals and/or civil society organisations in Europe, at bi-annual gatherings of European Rural Parliament or other similar events.

The criteria for selection will include the successful engagement of communities in rural Europe, the encouragement of democratic governance, accomplishments in pan-European cooperation, and achievement in conflict mediation, social inclusion, capacity building, social innovation and other activities or action which foster and enhance rural well-being.

The kind of work that might be recognised could be practical, or research-based but leading to practical results. It should help to bring about changes in policies or practice, by recognising, for example, what a community has done to protect nature or adapt their lives to the pressures of climate change.

Michael Dower’s Four Principles of a Fulfilled Life. Photo by Udo Reinschke

Life and legacy

Friends and colleagues of Michael, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, have come together with his family and the University of Gloucestershire to launch this award in honour of his life and his legacy.

Throughout his rich career, as a public servant managing the Peak District National Park and Countryside Commission, an academic at the University of Gloucestershire and a champion of pan-European rural development, Michael carried the values of democracy, cohesion, solidarity and peace. The Michael Dower Award for European Rural Resilience will honour and support people, communities, initiatives and alliances across wider Europe that share these values in their efforts to adapt in the face of crises and work together in pursuit of a more sustainable future.

In its own small but real way, the award will help achieve Michael’s vision of a better future for Europe’s rural people and places – and rebuild some of the bridges that have recently been broken.

See the Award Booklet for full details on the award

This rural resilience prize will be launched by Professor Janet Dwyer of the Countryside and Community Research Institute and University of Gloucestershire together with ARC2020 president Hannes Lorenzen. 

The launch will happen at a memorial event for Michael Dower on Saturday April 22 in the Peak District. It will be possible to watch the memorial via livestream, and so join Michael’s family, friends and colleagues as they trace his journey in Britain and Europe, and reflect on what his legacy in sustainable rural development means for those to whom he passed the torch.

The stream will be live on the Youth Hostel Association YouTube channel from 16:30 CET on Saturday April 22. There will be break at approximately 19.30 – 21.00 CET before resuming shortly after 21:00 CET for the launch of the The Michael Dower Award for European Rural Resilience.

Anyone who wishes to support the Michael Dower Award can find more details here.

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Passing of Michael Dower, a European Englishman