Die Stockholm konvensie: wisselwerking
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The Stockholm Convention: Interaction between science and policy. The history of mankind shows an increasing trend towards organisation, partly due to the ever-increasing numbers of people on earth, and the reduced availability of natural resources. As one of the unwanted consequences of man’s activities on earth, pollutants are also increasingly being formed and released, and threatening the health of humans and the environment. One way of dealing with this problem is through the organisation of International Environmental Agreements (IEAs). Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has been recognised as one such problem, and has recently been the subject of intense negotiations, which resulted in the conclusion and subsequent entry into force of the Stockholm Convention. The role of scientific knowledge has been quite substantial, as it was scientific investigation that first alerted the world to this problem. I maintain however, that the depth of knowledge about POPs in developing countries was one of the major drawbacks experienced by these countries during the negotiation phase, and this will probably last even during implementation and further development of the Convention. The case of DDT, where South Africa did have adequate data and experience, showed that an advantageous position could be negotiated, but less so for compounds that we have little or no knowledge about, such as the chlorinated dioxins and furans. The Stockholm Convention does, however, provide the additional means for developing countries to address POPs issues, including the issue of DDT for malaria control, and the reduction of emissions of the very toxic, unintentionally produced POPs. It is however, also incumbent on the countries and their institutions to recognise the opportunities presented, both institutionally and academically, to train and equip students, scientists and government officials to better manage and investigate this dangerous group of chemicals.