Dark Grey Europe

Recently Dark Grey was proud to play a part in an astounding project that sets out to re-green an entire desert

For business to business specialists like ourselves, it was a brief like no other. The ‘business’ in hand was to sell the idea of transforming an entire region from a barren desert to a garden of plenty for millions of ordinary people. Our clients were The Weather Makers. Our target audience, influencers and decision makers at the very top echelons of the Egyptian government. As sustainability stories go, it was off the scale.

The Weather Makers comprise specialists, researchers and designers who reengineer damaged ecological systems on a gargantuan scale, restoring them to their former levels of fertility. Ultimately, their aim is nothing short of mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change using existing advanced technology and wide-ranging engineering knowhow.

They have developed what they call the ‘Weather Making Approach’, an agile planning, engineering and management strategy that sets out how ecosystems and water cycles can be regenerated. Through massive, innovative engineering solutions, they can quite literally alter weather and climate across a region to make barren land both habitable for humans and useable for agriculture.

From desert to oasis

The Weather Makers came to Dark Grey to get our advice on how to promote such project: a plan to restore the water cycle of the dry, sandy and inhospitable Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. If successful, the project will – within a couple of decades – transform the region from a hot, dry, barren desert into a green haven teeming with life: forests, wetlands, farming land, wild flora and fauna. The Weather Makers believe that a greener and cooler Sinai would bring more moisture to the region which, in turn, would positively influence the larger weather systems that cause extreme weather around the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Along the way, the project promises to provide water and food security to the local people and improve their livelihoods and prosperity.
There are three key stages to the project:

  • Regreening the Sinai Desert
  • Regenerating Lake Bardawil
  • Restoring the ancient hydrological cycle

Bringing a lake back to life

Lake Bardawil on the north coast of Egypt used to be a great source of fish and other resources, but decreasing tidal influence from the Mediterranean Sea has led to an increase of salt levels and decreasing depth in the lake. This, along with unsustainable fishing practices, has meant that the fish population has nose-dived. The Weather Makers’ plan is to deepen the lake by dredging out the marine sediment and turn this into livable soil.  Widening the lake’s inlets will improve tidal energy into the lake and water exchange with the Mediterranean Sea which will help restore fish stocks. In addition the project plans to improve and restore shoreline wetlands around the lake to encourage further biodiversity.

The Weather MakersThe Weather Makers

Restoring an ancient garden of Eden

Thousands of years ago, the area of the Sinai Desert was actually lush farmland, but over time that has changed completely. In the last 50 years deterioration has accelerated at an alarming rate with more than 60% of species of plant and animal disappearing in that period alone. The solution proposed is to re-use the fertile sediments dredged from the lake regeneration project to re-green a total area of 30,000 km² of desert. Water management programmes including capturing moisture using ‘fog catchers’ will kick start a self-sustaining fertile environment across a huge area.

Changing the weather

Most ambitiously – and something for the long term – the team believe they can restore the entire water cycle of the region – quite literally changing the weather there. Simply put, re-greening the interior will reduce the land temperature and levels of solar reflection. Areas covered in vegetation use the sun’s heat to evaporate water and create clouds and rain. So, once vegetation has been restored, you increase cover, you reduce temperature, you reduce solar reflection, and you start creating a stable climate.

A project to change lives

The outcomes promise to be life-changing. The agricultural and natural biodiversity of the Sinai Desert will be stimulated while better water quality and food security will improve the livelihoods and security of impoverished local communities.

Spreading the word

The research is done, the science looks sound. The next step is for The Weather Makers to bring the government onboard and to find the substantial financial backing that will be needed to bring it all to reality. Which is where Dark Grey Europe comes in.The idea was to take the unique opportunity of COP27 where The Weather Makers were making their pitch and ensure that the key audience would get a direct message tailored for them. Aiming directly at the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, create an emotional film with tailored messages to ensure that the benefits  for the people of Egypt and his role in making this happen were clear. This required some work with the client to ensure the direction was in line with his leadership and that there were key message points that would trigger a positive response. This involved filming real Egyptians and crafting the story as a part of the longer history of Egypt. Highlighting this as milestone moment that would define the country and help shape the wider world in the future. Based on this we wrote and conceptualized a promotional video aimed at bringing potential stakeholders on board by explaining the project and highlighting its potential benefits.

The production itself was also a challenge with limitations on filming access in the region but working clearly from a well-prepared script, the production team were able to bring the highly emotional story to life.

A special cut of the film was specifically prepared for presentation during COP27 in Sharm al Sheik and was used in a direct audience with the President to sell the project to the Egyptian Government. The response was amazing with the Weather Makers reporting it gave them goosebumps to watch it and the audience were impressed at how non-Egyptian creators could have made a film that pressed all the right buttons in Egypt itself.

Let’s Work Together

Tell Us More About Your Project

We have all the experience, people, resources and expertise to help you in ways no other agency can.
For more information, get in touch directly.