A High Level Dialogue on Regional Integration was held on 3rd November 2011, at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Dialogue was convened by the Southern Africa Trust (Trust) with the assistance of the Flemish Government, within the framework of the Flemish support for public discourse on regional integration. The objective of the Dialogue was to look at innovative approaches to the challenges pertaining to regional integration for poverty reduction. The Dialogue also provided an opportunity to reflect on the current model of regional integration in Southern Africa and its relevance for inclusive and equitable growth and development. The Dialogue brought together state-actors and non–state actors, as well as representatives of institutions of learning to discuss how best to create opportunities for economic development, improve livelihoods and reduce vulnerability, including the facilitation of participatory governance at all levels within SADC.
The participants discussed the status of regional integration in the SADC region and concluded that despite some progress, integration remains largely fragmented after almost three decades of cooperation. Participants noted that there is generally a lack of an enabling environment to allow all sectors of society and individuals to make a meaningful contribution to regional integration to fight poverty. The participants also noted that, for effective and beneficial regional integration, direct citizen representation and popular participation on all regional issues is important. People-centred regional integration requires that governments consult the public through parliaments, private sector, civil society, and other popular formations to get feedback on the regional agenda.