Dr. Alhassan Ibrahim

Social Researcher in Mainstreaming Nature Based Solutions
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)
I have extensive research experience in freshwater resources governance, focusing on principles and processes for mainstreaming nature-based solutions (NbS) in socio-ecological systems. Due to the unparalleled climate change consequence and associated societal challenges, such as disaster risks, water insecurity and environmental degradation, working with nature is no longer an option but a societal obligation. However, societies are complex, comprising diverse layers of actors, rules, resources and discourse. Hence, I am passionate about conscious and result-oriented research that harnesses the opportunities in these layers, addresses the challenges, and enables society to coexist with nature effectively.

I have a planning background, having studied MPhil in Planning, Growth and Regeneration at the University of Cambridge (UK) and a BSc in Human Settlement Planning at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana). I gained my PhD qualification from the University of Adelaide (Australia), where my research focused on the governance processes for implementing green infrastructure to address freshwater challenges. My thesis was entitled Governance of waterways and flood adaptation: implementing sustainable green stormwater infrastructure in Ghana. I joined the Environmental Governance and Land Management Group within the Social and Geographical Sciences Department at the James Hutton Institute in 2021. Currently, I am working on the H2020 MERLIN project, focussing on mainstreaming aquatic nature-based solutions by working with industry and policy stakeholders at the European level. I also work partly on Scottish Government’s RESAS-funded where I will assess community awareness of and willingness to support nature-based solutions.

My primary research focuses on innovative governance and transformation frameworks for restoring freshwater ecosystems through the implementation of nature-based solutions (NbS). Presently, this is based H2020 MERLIN project. and Aim NbS.

My research on the H2020 MERLIN project include: 

  • Trends in EU Economic Sectors affecting and affected by freshwater. These include water supply, agriculture, peat extraction, hydropower, insurance and inland navigation. Further interest in the economic sectors’ role in mainstreaming nature-based solutions and influence on EU Green Deal goals and transformation needs.
  • Engaging industry and international actors in community of practice. The methods include designing, implementing and analysing questionnaires, and virtual and face-to-face meetings. The aim is to understand stakeholder perception, interests and motivations in mainstreaming nature-based solutions. Currently, I am leading the peat extraction sector roundtable. Here is a short note based on the first roundtable.
  • Undertaking policy and value chain analysis through desktop review and interviews. I have identified key EU policies related to nature-based solutions. These policies are being analysed to ascertain their weaknesses and strengths. The process aims to inform EU policy reforms and improve coherence to mainstreaming nature-based solutions.
  • Developing conceptual and theoretical frameworks for transformation to advance mainstreaming of nature-based solutions. A framework has been developed, illustrating the political, personal and practical elements of EU economic sectors and MERLIN case studies requiring profound changes to enable the transformation.
  • Application of global standards for implementing nature-based solutions. I am currently developing reports and guidelines for the application of the IUCN global standards for nature-based solutions. The process aims to ensure that nature-based solutions are well-understood, effectively implemented and accelerated in the policy.
  • Stakeholder mapping and designing pathways to engage local and national actors. I developed stakeholder mapping guidelines to enable MERLIN case studies across Europe to establish stakeholder boards to support and lead the implementation of nature-based solutions. Also, I advise the case studies about the pathways to enhance stakeholder engagement and reduce the prevailing engagement challenges.

On the AiM NbS project my roles are:

  • Factors influencing people’s awareness and willingness to support upscaling of nature-based solutions. This research uses questionnaires to understand views about NbS and what issues like accessibility might affect people’s willingness or ability to support any such initiatives.
  • Based on the results, I will provide recommendation to the Scottish Government about how to get more people, particularly residents, involved in upscaling NbS.


Past research

Before assuming my current role, I conducted applied and empirical research about water resources governance, green infrastructure planning and socio-ecological systems. I also worked as a Planning Consultant at Training, Research and Networking for Development Group in Ghana:

  • Baseline studies for community water supply project. In this collaborative project funded by the Ghana Water Company Limited, mixed methods involving spatial mapping, desktop review, interviews and surveys were undertaken to provide reliable baseline indicators to improve water accessibility in low-income communities.
  • Beneficiary assessment of Urban Water Projects. This project assessed the outcomes and expected socio-economic impacts of urban water projects across Ghana. The assessment was based on household surveys, focused group discussions and interviews.
  • Assessment of community water supply and sanitation needs under Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Water and Sanitation Project. Through policy analysis, spatial mapping and desktop review, water supply and sanitation needs of low-income urban areas were assessed. Thematic issues analysed include housing patterns, drainage and flooding, governance and socio-demographic structures.

I also have a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Consequently, I held casual tutoring positions in several subjects at the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, Australia. Courses tutored include Research Dissertation, Designing research and Project appraisal.


Prior to appointment

Technical / contract reports