Nina Rivers

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Knowledge integration in ocean governance, environmental education and equitable people, places, and species engagement processes 

AFFILIATION:  University of Strathclyde, UK / Nelson Mandela University (South Africa)


Nina worked on a ‘Ocean Connections in Algoa Bay – An arts-based participatory research project’ collaboratively with Indigenous and local community co-researchers in South Africa. The project highlighted the importance of moving from science-to-policy interface to a knowledge-to-policy interface, where coastal communities are directly informing ocean governance priorities, processes, and implementation by becoming essential authors of the underlying evidence base for these decisions. The exhibition of the project attracted… To watch a documentary film of the project – see here >>

photo: screenshot of youtube video – Ocean connections in algoa bay
Making waves

Nina co-led a policy brief entitled ‘Integrating Indigenous and Local Knowledge in Marine Spatial Planning’, look at how Indigenous and local knowledge holders and cultural heritage continue to be largely neglected in ocean governance, especially area-based management approaches such as marine spatial planning in South Africa – and more broadly along the African coast. This policy brief highlighted six areas through which a more diverse range of knowledge holders can be better integrated into these processes in South Africa – read here >>

Recent publication

Pathways to integrate Indigenous and local knowledge in ocean governance processes: Lessons from the Algoa Bay Project, South Africa – read here >>

Nina on leadership

“I co-led and co-designed an inter- and transdisciplinary pilot process with Hub researchers and stakeholders in Ghana, one of the Hub’s partner countries. The pilot process sought to collaboratively reimagine a transformative future vision for Ghana’s oceans, coasts and coastal communities in the face of climate change, plastics pollution and resources overuse (overfishing and overharvesting of mangroves etc.).

Nina rivers speaking at 2024 ocean decade – Photo: dylan mcgarry

I had never led or designed a process like this before and while the task was challenging, it was so much fun and the team and participants were enthusiastic and supportive. I learnt a lot about myself and others in terms of our capacity to respond to learning in new ways (e.g. using virtual tools and drawing on design thinking methodologies) and co-creating and visioning with stakeholders in Ghana as well as colleagues from multiple disciplines. I also had the opportunity to present this work at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference.

Nina’s advice to fellow Early-career researchers

“Be ready to be pulled in all sorts of directions! Be open and flexible to explore and to say yes to new people, ideas and opportunities but also identify a strong sense of what your research interests are so you can swim in a current that resonates with you and will support your future career. This is much easier said than done as these projects move fast and life and research is messy. Good luck and have fun and when life gets too much take a deep breath and go play in the ocean!”

Read Nina’s Spotlight interview – here >>