Veolia Water Sponsors ‘Naturally Dry’ Garden at Chelsea

Today is the member’s first day at the 2012 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show. And what a beautiful day it is to attend a flower show too. The weather is sunny, however the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is host to a dark irony.

Veolia Water sponsors the ‘Naturally Dry’ Garden at Chelsea, a garden inspired by William Wordsworth and designed by Vicky Harris Garden Design, whose web site tells us that:

 …it is possible to have a beautiful garden during times of drought…

Veolia Water is part of the French multinational Veolia Environnement, an organisation that the BIG Campaign tells us:

…is operating a tramway linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with Israel. Not only do the settlements contravene article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention forbidding an occupier transferring its own civilians into the territory it occupies, but in most cases the establishment of the Israeli settlements involved war crimes too. The tramway tightens Israel’s hold on occupied East Jerusalem, ties the settlements more firmly into Israel and undermines chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people.

In the occupied Jordan Valley Veolia has been supporting illegal settlements by taking their refuse at its Tovlan landfill site. Veolia has now compounded its offence by trying to sell Tovlan to an illegal settlement, whilst maintaining an advisory role.

Veolia also operates bus services connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Israel. Palestinian use of these services is either forbidden or severely restricted.

Under these circumstances alone it is disappointing that RHS and Vicky Harris Garden Design think it appropriate to taint their brand with sponsorship from a company that supports settlements that are illegal under international law. Perhaps they are not familiar with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement? But that’s not the ironic part.

Today is the last day of a 2 day conference on water and the prospects for agricultural development in Palestine. The Emergency Water and Sanitation-Hygiene Group, a coordination body for almost 30 member organisations seeking to improve conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory reports that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says Israeli “control of Palestinian water resources in the West Bank is responsible for [a] water crisis.”

The Palestinian water crisis has been brought about mostly because the State of Israel has the power to control the water available via aquifers to the occupied Palestinian territory. Furthermore, it’s difficult for the Palestinian people to maintain water and sanitation services if, as it has done with the past complicity of Egypt, Israel bans the import of tools and machinery required to run a functional and safe water service. In addition, it is reported that Veolia “… dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land…”.

So here is where we come full circle to the irony. Veolia is sponsoring a garden at the RHS Chelse Flower Show dedicated to showing how it is possible to have a beautiful garden even in times of drought, yet supports a State that is willing to refuse a people whom it occupies proper water and sanitation services.

Word reaches me that when questioned if she knew about her sponsor organisation’s ultimate involvement in international criminal acts, the garden designer Vicky Harris had no comment and did not want to discuss the matter further.

For Veolia, RHS, and Vicky Harris Garden Designs, the air is hardly filled with pleasant noise of waters.

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