The impact of the recent global economic crisis on vulnerable populations around the world led to an increased focus on social protection systems in developing countries. This article argues that the availability of both formal and informal social protection systems provides potential for an integrated approach to mitigating social risks for developing societies such as Vanuatu. The ranking of Pacific island countries on the global Social Protection Index (SPI), which measures levels of formal social protection, does not take into consideration the existence of informal social protection systems that are community and culture-based and more extensive in reach. Formal social protection systems are very limited in reach in Vanuatu and even urban employees who have access to them still rely on informal mechanisms. The dynamic engagement between the customary and market sectors makes an integrated social protection approach relevant.