This paper looks at rural risk in relation to climate change, globalisation and other factors, with a focus on how these risks are perceived and managed within different policy frames and among local institutions involved with agriculture and rural development. The nchanging and multidimensional landscape of risks is analysed in terms of how it impacts on natural resource management governance, strategies and decision-making. Pro-poor growth and community-based risk reduction policies are contrasted so as to highlight their implications for local actors struggling to deal with climate variability and market volatility. Food security is presented as an example of an area wherepolicy coherence in responding these multiple challenges is lacking, but where rural people and institutions are adapting in their own ways. The study suggest a number of entry points for further research that could be used to better align climate change efforts with the perceptions and priorities of rural populations at risk.