The "SAICM" strategic approach is a non-binding policy framework to ensure the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle. The goal is to improve the production and use of chemicals by 2020 so as to minimise their adverse effects on human health and the environment. 

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002, the Heads of State and Government who were present, adopted a "2020" goal to ensure the sound management of chemicals worldwide. They also called for the development of a strategic approach by inviting various international organisations including the United Nations Environment Programme and others dealing with chemicals in order to cooperate closely to that effect.

It was in Dubai, on 06 February 2006, at the first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM 1), that the SAICM strategic approach was adopted and it was planned that the approach would be reviewed during the 2009 (ICCM2), 2012 (ICMM3), 2015 (ICCM4) and 2020 (ICCM5) sessions.

SAICM is a unique approach on account of its multi-sectoral nature (agriculture, environment, health, industry, labour, science, etc.) and multi-stakeholder (consumers, employers, farmers, legislators, researchers, workers, etc.) nature. SAICM is also the only global mechanism covering all agricultural and industrial chemicals causing concern throughout their life cycle.

SAICM covers:
- risk reduction,
- knowledge,
- information and public awareness,
- governance,
- capacity development,
- technical assistance
and illegal international traffic.

It highlights the needs of developing countries and emerging global issues not covered by the United Nations conventions on chemicals and waste, i.e.: 
- the Rotterdam Convention on the exchange of information during transfer of some hazardous chemicals and pesticides,
- the Stockholm Convention on POPs,
- the Minamata Convention on Mercury,
- and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

In this sense, it is important for Belgium to follow and collaborate actively in this process. 

The REACH Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals and the CLP Regulation, on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures, are examples of European regulations implemented as part of European Union's contribution to the implementation of the SAICM. 

The REACH regulation helps in implementing the strategic approach and the 2020 goal of Johannesburg. It aims to gather information on chemicals, reduce chemical risk and substitute hazardous substances. In addition, it requires companies that use and sell chemicals to provide the concerned parties with information on these products and their effects. These provisions reinforce the aims of SAICM.

The CLP Regulation implements common European criteria for the classification and labelling of hazardous substances and mixtures and incorporates the international criteria of Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) into EU law. It is therefore in line with the overall objectives of the SAICM.

The full text of the SAICM is available on the SAICM website. A global action plan is annexed to this text, which provides a non-exhaustive list of activities that can be implemented in order to achieve the overall 2020 goal.

The usefulness of pursuing the sound management of chemicals and waste shall obviously not stop in 2020. How this management will continue in the long term (beyond 2020) should be examined in 2015 during the 4th ICCM.