Toby Sytsma’s Reflections

My time at ICCCAD has been short, but very rewarding. I came here as a visiting researcher working on a project for my master’s degree thesis, and while I was only in Dhaka two months I will be leaving feeling as if I have accomplished all the goals I set for myself while being here.

My research is not particularly related to climate change, I have been looking at the social and biological influences on risk preferences in an attempt to explain the gap in risk preference between males and females. However, in my short time in Dhaka and at ICCCAD I have come to realize that many facets of life (including risk preference) can be tied back to the climate in some way. I believe that understanding and uncovering what lies at the base of our individual preferences is key to designing policies that work effectively. This is especially true for climate change adaptation policy, which has the potential to be even more effective with a better understanding of individuals’ preferences.

My study was a replication of two separate studies previously done in the USA and Italy, and while the subject pool of my experiment (university students at IUB) was not completely representative of the Bangladeshi population as a whole, and it is still to early in the literature to assign claims of causality, the replication of these studies should add some external validity to the findings previously reported.

In my experience, ICCCAD was very helpful and accommodating in every way. ICCCAD helped me find space at IUB to run my experiment, and assisted with the implementation of the experiment. I would recommend ICCCAD to any graduate student interested in working on climate change related topics, or anyone interested in economic development.

Written by: Toby Sytsma, Visiting Researcher, ICCCAD August Newsletter 2013