Page 4 - Perspective Paper
P. 4

1  Key message

               The existential threat of climate change is humanity’s most urgent challenge, but all too often the problem
               has  been  split  into  separate  issues:  greenhouse  gases,  biodiversity  loss,  unsustainable  production  and
               consumption,  environmental  degradation.  Proposed  solutions  to  these  problems  have  been  similarly

               The Bardawil & Sinai Initiative offers a holistic, nature-based solution to a multitude of problems. As well as
               restoring the Sinai’s ecosystems, providing substantial human and environmental benefits, the Initiative aims
               to dramatically transform the entire region, restoring the water cycle, altering weather patterns, and bringing
               regular, predictable precipitation to areas that are currently arid. In so doing, it could be a framework for
               ecosystem restoration across arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of the world. With time running out and urgent
               challenges  ahead,  the  Initiative  invites  and  encourages  further  academic  consideration,  discussion  and
               collaboration with policy makers, engineers and local communities most affected by climate change.
               On a continental and planetary scale, long-term human pressures on green water (defined as terrestrial
               precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture) in the form of e.g. land-use change has contributed to the
               deterioration of ecological, climatic and hydrological Earth system (Wang-Erlandsson et al., 2022). Research
               indicates that as recently as 4,000 to 7,000 years BCE, the 60,000sq km Sinai Peninsula was green and hosted
               significant reservoirs of biodiversity. Today it is largely a dry and denuded landscape, partly as a result of
               human activity such as deforestation and overgrazing. The Bardawil & Sinai Initiative seeks to effectively
               reverse this process. The initial intervention would be the regeneration of Lake Bardawil, on the Sinai’s
               Mediterranean  coast,  which  would  rapidly  improve  estuarine  ecosystems  and  fish  stocks.  Through  an
               engineering intervention process, nutrient-rich sediments produced from the rejuvenated estuary will be
               removed from Lake Bardawil to regenerate coastal and inland areas over coming years.
               At the heart of the Bardawil & Sinai Initiative is an enlightened approach to living systems and the energy
               embodied  within  them.  Given  the  opportunity,  living  systems  have  an  inbuilt  capacity  to  organise  and
               regulate themselves on every scale, from a pond to a planet. Prior to the Anthropocene, the geologic epoch
               of Earth where human-driven processes have overwhelmed natural processes, planetary biofunctionality
               relied on such forms of self-regulation. The more such interconnected systems are re-established, the more
               dynamic and resilient the entire ecosystems will become.

               Once established, the restoration process in the Sinai is expected to be  primarily self-sustaining: as the
               landscape of the Sinai regreens and retains more moisture, a stable hydrological cycle is predicted to return,
               thus improving conditions for further regreening and agriculture, and, by extension, economic and political
               stability in the face of anticipated population pressure. Some degree of management in the form of ‘green
               jobs’0F  will maintain the equilibrium of the system and be a secondary benefit to the initiative.
               In addition, a regreened Sinai Peninsula could significantly alter weather patterns across the wider region. At
               present, in summer, the hot, dry Sinai draws moisture-laden north-westerly winds from the Mediterranean
               out into the Indian Ocean, where it fuels extreme weather events. A cooler, moister Sinai would reverse the
               direction  of  these  winds,  distributing  this  moist  Mediterranean  air  more  locally.  This  would  result  in
               dramatically increased precipitation to surrounding areas such as eastern Egypt, western Saudi Arabia, Israel,
               Palestine, Jordan and beyond.

               As such, the initiative could possibly be the first large-scale intervention that embodies the concept of Earth
               stewardship – “the proactive shaping of physical, biological, and social conditions to sustain, rather than
               disrupt,  critical  earth-system  processes  in  support  of  nature  and  human  wellbeing  at  local-to-planetary

               1  Green jobs are broadly defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as decent jobs that contribute to preserve or
               restore the environment

               A strategic ‘living systems’ approach to climate stabilization                          4/26
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