Richard Friend is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in Human Geography in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, and a member of the Working Group for programme design of the York Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre. With an academic background in social anthropology and development studies, he completed his doctorate based on village level fieldwork in Southern Thailand. A Southeast Asian specialist, he is fluent in Thai and proficient in Lao.
In over twenty-five years’ experience working in the Mekong region, he has managed complex multi-million dollar regional projects, led regional research programmes, facilitated high-level public policy dialogues, and led programme evaluations. He has taken on senior management and consultancy roles for international organisations (IUCN), donors (DfID, Sida, Danida, USAID), UN agencies (UNDP, FAO, UNCDF), inter-governmental organisations (Mekong River Commission), international development banks (Asian Development Bank, the World Bank), research organisations (the WorldFish Center) and NGOs (including ISET-International, Oxfam, Thailand Environment Institute).
His research focuses on the governance dimensions of social and environmental change, covering such diverse issues as rural livelihoods, poverty and climate vulnerability; water resource governance; decentralization and community management of natural resources; urban poverty and climate resilience. Much of his work has supported participatory action research and opening space for informed public dialogue. He is Principal Investigator for a Newton Fund institutional links programme with Chiang Mai University, addressing rapidly changing food systems in Northern Thailand to identify pathways to transformations that are socially and environmentally resilient and just. As Co-Investigator of the SSHRC/IDRC Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (UCRSEA) partnership, his work focuses on regionalization, urbanization and climate change in the Mekong region.
He has published widely, both in academic journals and more accessible publications, including newspapers and blogs. He was the lead author for the 2011 Cambodia Human Development Report; the flagship report of UNDP. An accomplished documentary photographer, his images have been used by development organisations, and his photographic essays published in a range of media (http://www.richfriendphotography.com/fr/accueil.html).