In recent years, indigenous leaders have raised their voices in defence of the forest, their land and their rights,  joining forces with young people mobilising against the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.

In 2021, the Amazon forest lost 18 trees per second and globally, 3.75 million hectares of tropical primary rainforests have disappeared. However, while there is growing awareness of the impacts of forest loss on the environment and on the climate, there has been less focus on the human impacts. Indigenous peoples who are at the forefront of the battle to preserve our precious ecosystems are being displaced, threatened and murdered. Meanwhile, amidst global climate disasters and with the Brazilian presidential elections taking place in October, the conversation has never been so urgent.

The exclusive conference and debate on the topic will kick off with the screening of the film “Amazonia, the heart of Mother Earth” directed by Esmeralda of Belgium and Gert-Peter Bruch, Chair of Planète Amazone, who recently travelled to Brazil.

The documentary follows five indigenous leaders from four different generations telling the history of their struggle with deforestation and land grabbing, determined to transform national and international policies that affect their lands into a hope for humanity. International witnesses also intervene in the conversation reminding us that the Amazon’s future is intrinsically linked to ours. 

Val Munduruku from an indigenous community of the Amazon, climate activist Adelaïde Charlier and Stefaan Pauwels, EU representative in charge of the MERCOSUR dossier, will participate in a debate along with Princess Esmeralda and Gert-Peter Bruch to shed light on the question of the Amazon’s survival. They will discuss the protection of indigenous and Isolated Peoples, the current imbalances on the global climate, and the role of the EU and other international actors. 

 THE EXHIBITION – “Respect nature, respect people”

                                          (Curator: Cristina Barros-Greindl)

Her Royal Highness Princess Esmeralda will introduce the exhibition of the photographs taken by her late father, King Leopold III.

In the 1960s, Leopold III produced an impressive collection of photographs of Brazil; some unique testimonies both artistically and ethnologically. A selection of photos from his expedition carried out with the Villas Boas brothers in 1964 and their encounter with indigenous peoples will be on display. With some of the first portraits of the young Raoni.

A cocktail will follow with live Brazilian and indigenous music.

The evening is organized by Philippe Nothomb and Olivier Héger. In collaboration with: Leopold III Fund for the Exploration and Conservation for Nature, Planète Amazone, BCOH Special Risks Insurer, La Ferme Lansrode, and COMEQUI.


Princess Esmeralda 

Princess Esmeralda is a member of the Belgian Royal family.  She is a journalist, author and keynote speaker. She has also co-produced three documentaries and written books about her family, environmental issues and female Nobel Peace Prize winners. Esmeralda is a human rights’ campaigner, particularly for the rights of women and indigenous people, and an environmental activist. 

In June 2020, Princess Esmeralda voiced her support for the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. She spoke about Belgium’s colonial past and its rule over the Congo when millions of Congolese died during the reign of her great grand-uncle, King Leopold II. She also dedicates a lot of her time to environmental issues and took part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019. She is the President of the Leopold III Fund for Nature Exploration and Conservation, founded in 1972 by her late father. She is also Chair of Friendship Belgium, Honorary President of CARE Belgium and a WWF UK and WWF Belgium Ambassador.

Gert-Peter Bruch

Founder of Planète Amazone, co-founder of the Alliance des Gardiens de Mère Nature and filmmaker Gert-Peter Bruch (France) has been committed to the preservation of the Amazon and indigenous peoples for over 30 years. 

He volunteered with Sting and the famous cacique Raoni on their first international tour in 1989. He has since organised the communication for 6 international tours of the great defender of the Amazonian forest. He is also a co-founder of the Alliance of the Guardians of Mother Nature movement, which has produced a manifesto for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. His fight for future generations is also a tribute to his maternal grandfather, a man from the great Sahara, whose village still suffers, more than 60 years later, from the scars of the first French atmospheric nuclear test.

Val Munduruku

Valdinéia Sauré, also called Val Munduruku, is a young indigenous activist from the Munduruku indigenous people, who have fought for decades to preserve its territories and the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest. 

From an early age, she developed a deep consciousness about the necessity to preserve Nature, as well as the role of indigenous peoples in its sustainability. Living in Alter do Chão, in the municipality of Santarem in the Amazon, she connected to other indigenous women and non-indigenous activists to create a network of souls dedicated to the cause. In 2020 and 2021, she participated in both COP25 in Madrid – with the organisation Engaja Mundo – and COP26 – with the association Jiboiana.

Stefaan Pauwels

Mr Pauwels currently works as desk Brazil and Mercosur at the South America Division of the European External Action Service. Between 2012 and 2019, he was Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegations in Paraguay and Peru. Key areas of cooperation included human rights, circular economy and greening food supply chains.

Previously, he held several positions at the European Commission, including in DG Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN) and DG International Partnerships (INPTA). He has also worked as academic researcher in Nicaragua for VVOB (Flemish Organisation for International Cooperation) and as diplomatic trainee in Bolivia for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has a degree in economics at the University of Antwerp.



18H30 : Welcome & Brazilian Music

19H00 : Conference & movie

19H30 : Panel & Q&A

20H30 : Introduction to Comequi Project for Amazonia

20H40 : Exhibition of the photographs taken by the King Leopold III

21H00 : Bar


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