Political institutions, formal or informal, embody the underlying rules and norms within which organisations such as governments, NGOs or companies, operate (North, 1990) and play a defining role in how people and organisations respond to climate-related shocks and stresses. Democratic relations between national and local government, for example, influence capacities for quick response in an emergency, and these responses can in turn affect economic prosperity, competitiveness, livelihoods and well-being. Governance provides us with a broad term for understanding the institutions working across the state, market and civil society. This working paper identifies an agenda for research and practice to create governance that can support human resilience to multiple shocks and stresses.
• Underlying and context-dependent political relationships inform how different approaches to governance for improved resilience to climate shocks and stressors play out in practice.
• The practice of improving governance for resilience may be less about the application ofrecommendations for particular approaches (such as decentralisation) than an incremental and long-term process of convening willing actors and creating new spaces for engagement between different stakeholders. For international partners to resilience efforts, this approach often challenges conventional modes of operation and this will need to be addressed.
• In this process, there will be trade-offs that need to be acknowledged, and the approach to such trade-offs agreed, between the parties involved.
• The role of different forms of political institution in shaping governance for resilience merits more investigation, and particularly analysis of the role of political parties and voting systems, executive–legislative relations, constitutional forms, trade unions, bureaucracies and the role of the press.
• There are entry points for engaging with informal political institutions to ensure they work to distribute long-term benefits for all – which also involves recognising how formal and informal institutions interrelate.