Richard joined SEI in 2006 to assume global leadership for developing and implementing the institute’s research strategy on climate-related issues. In 2010 he was appointed visiting professor of geography, climate policy and development at Linköping University. Based in Bonn since 2016 to strengthen SEI’s visibility and impact in Germany, he continues to pursue partnerships with research organisations, policy stakeholders and funders. Since 2018 Richard serves as director of science and innovation of the newly established Global Center on Adaptation, and as co-director of research of the Global Commission on Adaptation. He also co-chairs the Science Committee of the World Adaptation Science Programme.

Richard founded the pioneering academic journal Climate and Development, which first appeared in 2009 and of which he was editor-in-chief for ten years. He has been involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1994 (including six times as lead author), and was co-director and chief scientist of the Nordic Centre of Excellence for Strategic Adaptation Research (NORD-STAR) in 2011–2016.

Before moving to Stockholm, Richard spent eight years at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He began his career at the Institute for Environmental Studies of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 1992.