Change has been at the heart of the livelihoods concept since its inception, allowing for a clear focus on how people perceive, respond to and experience risk. The ardent focus on 'the local' within livelihoods work, both in research and programmatic terms, has to some extent overshadowed attention on the role of wider-scale political economic and environmental processes in generating change and determining responses to change. Livelihoods in the Mekong Delta have never been 'local', having long been historically embedded in international, regional and national economic, political and environmental transformations. Drivers of change at these wider scales have intensified, complicating local responses to change, whether through economic, social or political means. A more nuanced appreciation of how scaled relations can be supported is required to better anticipate and respond to the political ecology of risk.