Richard Thomas is a globally recognized expert in natural resources management with broad research interests in integrated soil, water and nutrient management in crop-livestock systems in Latin America, Africa, West and Central Asia. He is the Manager of the Food, Land, and Ecosystem Program at UNU-INWEH.
Richard is the scientific coordinator for the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative, launched in 2011 with UNU-INWEH as a founding member and is currently housed at GIZ, Bonn, Germany. His impactful career journey includes serving as the program director for the CGIAR’s-Drylands System Program located at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Amman, Jordan (2014-2016), Assistant Director of UNU-INWEH (2008-2014), and the Director of the Natural Resources Management Programme at ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria (2001-2008), and the program leader and member of senior management of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia for 12 years.
While at CIAT, he received the outstanding publication of the year award and his team received the CGIAR’s Excellence in Science Award for Outstanding Partnership, the first such award for his research centre. In 2021, he was a member of the winning team in the GEO-LDN technology innovation competition for the design of a land use planning tool to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land.
Richard is a graduate of the University of Wales, U.K. with a B.Sc. and Ph.D. in botany and microbiology. With over 120 refereed journal articles, 41 book chapters, 4 books (co-edited), and 26 other articles of general interest, he is one of the world’s highly cited scientists in the agronomy and agriculture field.
He is actively involved in capacity building in the Global South aimed at enabling national teams of academics, NGO’s, research institutes and government ministries to develop natural capital accounting and land restoration activities. He is also active with the ELD Initiative through its links with the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the State of Finance for Nature reports, and the dissemination of economic data on land restoration.