The integration of the Pillars of Positive Peace was among the key new developments in shaping the future of regional development within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The SADC’s recent retreat in Kasane, Botswana, unveiled recommendations and robust plans for fostering regional cooperation, including the incorporation of a new framework, the Pillars of Positive Peace, into existing and future programs as part of the broader policy recommendations.
Positive Peace can be described as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful society, of which the Institute for Economics & Peace has identified eight key areas, known as the Pillars of Positive Peace. These pillars were derived from the datasets that had the strongest correlation with internal peacefulness, as measured by the Global Peace Index, an index that defines peace as “absence of violence or the fear of violence”.

As part of its five Action Plans from the Kasane session, the SADC agree to adopt the Positive Peace framework in order to strengthen the foundation of peace and security essential for successful integration.

Key messages from Kasane:

  • Definition and Importance of Regional Integration (RI): RI is essential for overcoming geographical and artificial divisions, facilitating the free flow of trade, capital, energy, people, and ideas through shared physical and institutional infrastructures.
  • Approaches to RI: The retreat emphasised the need for a mix of intergovernmental and functional approaches, recommending a shift towards more supranational control in certain areas to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Stages of RI: Despite some progress, notably the attainment of Free Trade Area (FTA) status, challenges like overlapping memberships and limited political will hinder further integration. The retreat suggested adopting both developmental and conventional linear models tailored to regional realities.
  • Dimensions of Integration: Key dimensions discussed included social integration, emphasising mobility and access; productive sector and market integration, focusing on value chains and industrialisation; trade integration, calling for reduced barriers and enhanced facilitation; and monetary and financial integration, which highlighted the need for macroeconomic policy harmonization.
  • Infrastructure Integration: Significant emphasis was placed on energy, ICT, and transport sectors, with calls for innovative financing and a corridor approach to infrastructure development.
  • Environmental Integration: Discussions highlighted the critical need for sustainable use of natural resources and enhanced climate resilience, urging harmonized strategies for environmental protection.
  • Institutional Integration: The retreat acknowledged the predominantly intergovernmental nature of current structures but recommended exploring functional cooperation to foster deeper integration.
  • Peace and Security: Stability was underscored as foundational to successful regional development, with recommendations for enhanced diplomatic and security mechanisms.


  • Deepening Integration: SADC should prioritise cooperation in trade, investment, and infrastructure and strengthen institutional frameworks to support these efforts.
  • Adopting Mixed Integration Approaches: Both intergovernmental and functional approaches should be adopted depending on the area, with a push towards more supranational governance where beneficial.
  • Addressing Stages of Integration Flexibly: SADC should balance ambition with feasibility, adopting non-linear approaches to integration that allow for adaptation and incremental trust-building.
  • Enhancing Dimensions of Integration: Specific recommendations were made across various dimensions of integration, from improving social policies to strengthening industrial and trade policies.
  • Leveraging Infrastructure for Regional Development: Calls were made for innovative financing models and multi-sectoral infrastructure projects that align with regional development goals.
  • Prioritizing Environmental Sustainability: SADC is encouraged to strengthen regional cooperation on environmental issues and climate resilience.
  • Strengthening Institutional Capacities: SADC should enhance the capacity of regional institutions to implement and manage integration processes effectively.

Action Plans

  • Operationalisation of Recommendations: Immediate steps include the development of specific frameworks and action plans for each recommendation, with clear timelines and responsibilities assigned to SADC members and the Secretariat.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation:Regular assessments of progress, challenges, and emerging issues are essential to adapt and refine approaches continuously.
  • Resource Mobilisation: Enhanced efforts in mobilising financial and human resources are crucial to support the ambitious plans set forth during the retreat.
  • Public Engagement and Awareness: Increasing the visibility and understanding of SADC initiatives among the public and stakeholders is vital for garnering broader support and participation.
  • Integration of the Pillars of Positive Peace: This new framework will be incorporated to strengthen the foundation of peace and security essential for successful integration.

The Kasane retreat has laid a foundation for advancing regional integration in Southern Africa. By addressing both traditional and emerging challenges, SADC is aiming to enhance cooperation, stability, and development across the region.

And it recognised that peace is critical to lay the foundations for successful integration.


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