Accessibility statement

Richard Friend
Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor



Richard Friend joined the Department of Environment and Geography in 2016. He has a background in social anthropology and development studies, with a PhD from the University of Bath (UK) based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in southern Thailand. He has over twenty-five years experience working in Asia – Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Nepal. He speaks Thai fluently and is proficient in Lao.

The main focus of his work has been on the poverty and governance dimensions of social and environmental transformations, particularly around fisheries, water resources, urbanization and climate change. His most recent writing has focused on governance, rights and poverty dimensions of urban climate resilience theory and practice in Asia. He has a longstanding interest in scientific and indigenous knowledge and the role of citizen science in driving social change.  His research interests include resilience in food systems, such as in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

His professional work has involved a range of responsibilities - programme management, capacity building, and policy-oriented action research. He has worked in senior management and advisory positions for the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), the Institute of Social and Environmental Transition, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the WorldFish Centre, and taken on consultancy roles for a range of NGOs (including Oxfam, Save the Children), UN agencies (UNDP, FAO and UNCDF) and bilateral donors (including DFID, Danida and Sida).

As the director of ISET-International’s regional office he was responsible for the program management and technical oversight of two regional programmes on urban climate resilience – the USAID-funded Mekong Building Climate Resilient Asian Cities (M-BRACE) that works in four second-tier cities in Thailand and Vietnam, and the regional and Thai components of the Rockefeller Foundation Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN).

He has played a prominent role in conducting research and facilitating participatory processes and multi-stakeholder dialogues around water resource management, hydropower, fisheries and local livelihoods in the Mekong region – acting as a consultant and advisor to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the 3S River Basin (RETA 6367), the Mekong River Commission and the World Bank, and as theme leader on Fisheries and Livelihoods for the Mekong Programme on Water, Environment and Resilience (M-POWER) research network.

His policy-oriented research has addressed diverse development challenges including natural resource management, public administration reforms and decentralization, as well as child labour and education. He acted as lead for the UNDP 2011 Human Development Report for Cambodia on climate change and rural livelihoods, also responsible for a sustained process of multi-stakeholder dialogue and consultation.

External roles

Member of IUCN Task Force on Resilience

Departmental roles

Disability Support Officer

University roles

Member of the Management Group of the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre



Principal Investigator: Newton Fund/British Council Institutional Links (in collaboration with Chiang Mai University, Thailand) – Resilient Food systems: Co-producing Knowledge and Environmental Solutions

Principal Investigator: Reimagining Approaches to Water and Waste (Mekong and Jordan basins)

Theme Leaderr: YESI Sub-Network – The WasteShed Network

Research Funding

He is currently a Co-Investigator of the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (UCRSEA) partnership working with academic and civil society partners in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, funded by the International Development Research Centre and Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has also led the development of the Reimagining Inclusive Urban Futures for Transformation (RIUFT) research partnership that explores governance and social justice dimensions of urbanization in the Global South. He is a member of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) and the commission’s Task Force on Resilience, and a regular contributor to The Nature of Cities.

Selected Major Publications

Peer-review journal articles and books

Friend R.M., Thankappan S., Doherty B. et al. Agricultural and food systems in the Mekong region: Drivers of transformation and pathways of change [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res 2019, 1:12

Friend, R.M. and P. Thinphanga (2018) Urban water crises under future uncertainties: the case of institutional and infrastructure complexity in Khon Kaen, Thailand Sustainability (Special Edition on Urban Climate Resilience)

Friend, R.M., Anwar, N.H., Dixit, A., Hutanuwatr, K., Jayaraman, T., McGregor, J.A., Menon, M.R., Moench, M., Pelling, M. and Roberts, D., 2016. Re-imagining Inclusive Urban Futures for Transformation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability20, pp.67-72.

Friend, R. and Moench, M., 2015. Rights to urban climate resilience: moving beyond poverty and vulnerability. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change6(6), pp.643-651.

Friend, R.M., Thinphanga, P., MacClune, K., Henceroth, J., Tran, P.V.G. and Nghiem, T.P., 2015. Urban transformations and changing patterns of local risk: lessons from the Mekong Region. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment6(1), pp.30-43.

Henceroth, J., Friend, R.M., Thinphanga, P., Tran, P.V.G. and Nghiem, T.P., 2015. Lessons from self-assessments within urban climate resilience programs. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment6(1), pp.86-101.

Friend, R. and Moench, M., 2013. What is the purpose of urban climate resilience? Implications for addressing poverty and vulnerability. Urban Climate6, pp.98-113.

Friend, R., Jarvie, J., Reed, S.O., Sutarto, R., Thinphanga, P. and Toan, V.C., 2014. Mainstreaming urban climate resilience into policy and planning; reflections from Asia. Urban Climate7, pp.6-19.

Reed, S.O., Friend, R.M., Vu, C.T., Thinphanga, P., Sutarto, R. and Singh, D., 2013. Shared Learning for Urban Climate Resilience. Environment and Urbanization.

Béné, C. and Friend, R.M., 2011. Poverty in small-scale fisheries old issue, new analysis. Progress in Development Studies11(2), pp.119-144.

Arthur, R.I. and Friend, R.M., 2011. Inland capture fisheries in the Mekong and their place and potential within food-led regional development. Global Environmental Change21(1), pp.219-226.

Nicro, S., Friend, R., and Pradubsuk, S Eds. 2011. Environmental Governance in Asia: Independent Assessments of National Implementation of Rio Declaration’s Principle 10 Thailand Environment Institute: Nonhtaburi.

Friend, R.M. and Blake, D.J., 2009. Negotiating trade-offs in water resources development in the Mekong Basin: implications for fisheries and fishery-based livelihoods. Water Policy11(S1), pp.13-30.

Béné, C. and Friend, R.M., 2009. Water, poverty and inland fisheries: lessons from Africa and Asia. Water International34(1), pp.47-61.

Friend, R.M., 2009. Fishing for influence: Fisheries science and evidence in water resource development in the Mekong Basin. Water Alternatives2(2), p.167.


Friend, R., Choosuk, C., Hutanuwatr, K., Inmuong, Y., Kittitornkool, J., Lambregts, B., Promphakping, B., Roachanakanan, T., Thiengburanathum, P. and Siriwattanaphaiboon, S., 2016. Urbanising Thailand: Implications for climate vulnerability assessment. 

Jarvie, J. and Friend, R.M., 2016. “Urbanization, Inclusion and Social Justice” in Accelerating the Transition to Sustainable Cities: The State of the World Report 2016 WorldWatch Institute: Washington DC



Geographies of Development 

Gender, Environment and Global Poverty

Geographies of Production and Consumption

Environmental Policy from Global and Local


Current Research in Human Geography and Environment

Contact details

Dr Richard Friend
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
YO10 5NG