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Opportunities and Challenges in the Era of Polycrisis

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

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The Empire Club of Canada Presents:
Opportunities and Challenges in the Era of Polycrisis

We are living through a new era of ‘polycrisis’ and uncertainty:
A climate emergency.
The socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highest levels of conflict since WWII.
One hundred million displaced people.
A rising cost of living.
The war in Ukraine.
Despite this uncertainty, the future of people and the planet is not predetermined.

The world’s population will pass the eight billion mark for the first time in November 2022. It is a moment to reflect on the remarkable development and progress our global community has made – from lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty to expanding access to quality healthcare and education. If we have the power to create a new geological era- the age of humans- then we can harness humanity’s immense collective power to slow the climate emergency in its tracks, the defining challenge of our times.

Mr. Achim Steiner will explore what CoP27 achieved and critically analyze if it is enough. He will attempt to define what “leave no one behind” means and outline the opportunities and challenges in our complex and ambiguous environment. Finally, he will discuss a framework of potential pathways for a new form of development through decarbonization and review why the United Nations, including UNDP, still must achieve these overarching objectives.


*The content presented is free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.*

*Views and Opinions Expressed Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the speakers or panelists are those of the speakers or panelists and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official views and opinions, policy or position held by The Empire Club of Canada.*

headshot of Achim  Steiner

Achim Steiner

Administrator, United Nations Development Program

Achim Steiner became UNDP Administrator on 19 June 2017 following the confirmation of his nomination by the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Steiner is the Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which unites 40 entities of the UN system that work to support sustainable development.

Over nearly three decades, Mr. Steiner has been a global leader on sustainable development, climate resilience and international cooperation.

Prior to joining UNDP, he was Director of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. Mr. Steiner has served across various international organizations, looking at global challenges from both a humanitarian and a development perspective. He led the United Nations Environment Programme (2006-2016), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (2001 – 2006) and the World Commission on Dams (1998 – 2001).

headshot of Leslie  Woo

Leslie Woo

CEO, CivicAction

Leslie Woo CRE® is a respected city leader with over 25 years of experience building sustainable communities and shaping urban development in Canada’s fastest-growing urban region, greater Toronto. Leslie assumed the role of CEO at CivicAction in 2020. CivicAction is a premier civic engagement organization that convenes established and rising leaders from all sectors, backgrounds and experiences, CivicAction catalyzes actions and impactful solutions to address pressing challenges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and beyond.

Before joining CivicAction, Leslie was Chief Planning and Development the Greater Golden Horseshoe regional transit authority, Metrolinx, for over a decade. Leslie is a tri-sector athlete with experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors as well she is a seasoned urban planner, architect and tireless community activator. She holds Board positions at Womens College Hospital, Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, Waterfront Toronto and the Urban Land Institute’s Curtis Infrastructure Global Advisory Board.

An accomplished leader, Leslie was named a Senior Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy in 2022, Bisnow’s 2019 Toronto Power Women in Commercial Real Estate, one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017 by WXN, Spacing Toronto’s Transit Changemaker in 2016 and Canada’s Women’s Infrastructure Network’s 2015 Outstanding Leader. Founder of, Leslie uses her voice and platform to amplify and celebrate other women city builders.