Group CEO Statement
Sustainability is a priority of our times and it is now a mainstream issue on global political, economic and business agendas. As at end 2017, 173 nations ratified the Paris Agreement, standing united in the fight against climate change. Echoing the urgent call for collective action to mitigate global warming, the Singapore government has designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action.
Businesses can play a key role in embracing sustainability by conserving finite resources and the natural environment, be politically and socially more inclusive as well as invest in long-term financial stability and economic prosperity.
Apart from mitigating climate related risks, there are tremendous economic opportunities to tap on. A report1 released at the United Nations (UN) climate negotiations in Bonn estimated that US$300 billion will be needed annually to help countries deal with unavoidable climate losses by 2030. According to the International Finance Corporation2, financing climate actions is projected to create US$23 trillion worth of investment opportunities by 2030.
In addition, investors and financiers are increasingly rewarding companies with good Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance. A 2017 MSCI study3 showed that corporations with good ESG performance have outperformed in profitability and equity in the long term compared to those with poorer ESG performance.
Mandatory sustainability reporting is another impetus driving the uptake for corporate sustainability. Many stock exchanges worldwide have introduced measures that encourage listed companies to disclose their ESG performance. At the end of 2017, 66 stock exchanges representing more than 77% of listed equity market capitalisation at over US$55 trillion4 have joined the UN Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative, including the Singapore Exchange (SGX). With effect from 2017, the SGX made sustainability reporting mandatory for all Singapore listed companies on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.
In June 2017, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) issued a set of guidelines for investors, financiers and insurers to understand the climate-related risks of their investment portfolio. As more investors question the climate risk exposure of companies in their portfolio, scenario testing against climate change is expected to take centre stage in 20185.
ON TRACK TO CDL FUTURE VALUE 2030
From a very early stage, CDL has recognised the importance of ESG integration. For more than two decades, we have incorporated sustainability into our business and operations to future- proof our business and unlock future value. Sustainability has not only raised our operational performance, resource efficiency and productivity, it has driven innovation, opened new opportunities and attracted like-minded investors.
Building on our firm foundation in ESG management, we strategically established the CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint in 2017. It formed a vital part of our integrated sustainability strategy which continues to harness our six capitals – financial, organisational, natural, manufactured, human as well as social and relationship – to create shared value for our business, stakeholders, community and the environment.
A forward-looking action plan, the blueprint set out long-term ESG goals and targets towards 2030 – a milestone year for global sustainable development, climate agreement and green building movement. Delivering on three strategic goals, we set clearly defined operational targets to address ESG issues which are material to our business and stakeholders.
BUILDING SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
More than just a developer of living and working spaces, we have strived to be a builder of lives and communities. Our long-standing commitment to innovation and green building has distinguished CDL as a trusted eco-developer and differentiated our products. The enhanced value of our manufactured capital has benefited our business, customers and investors, and supported the well-being and development of the communities which we operate in.
For more than a decade, we set targets to achieve Green Mark GoldPLUS certification for all new developments – two tiers beyond the mandatory certification level awarded by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Today, 100% of CDL- owned and managed office buildings have attained Green Mark GoldPLUS and Platinum, the highest tier certification.
Beyond reputational and environmental benefits, our green assets have benefitted CDL financially. The energy-efficient retrofitting and initiatives implemented in eight of our office buildings have brought about more than $20 million savings in electricity bill since 2012.
In recent years, green financing has offered alternative financing streams for businesses to step up action against climate change globally. In April 2017, we leveraged our long- standing green building commitment to issue our first green bond, raising $100 million to refinance the slew of initiatives implemented to maintain the performance of our flagship Republic Plaza at the Green Mark Platinum level. The bond is the first by a listed Singapore company and kick started more active adoptions of green financing in Singapore with at least two green bonds issued by other corporations subsequently. In March 2018, CDL is honoured to receive an award for New Countries Taking Green Bonds Global, in Climate Bonds Initiative’s prestigious Green Bond Pioneer Awards 2018.
Recognising that user behaviour is equally important in achieving energy efficiency and savings, we continued to actively engage and encourage tenants and occupants to adopt low-carbon practices at the workplace. We are pleased that the CDL Green Lease Partnership Programme has achieved our target of 100% tenant participation by end December 2017.
To support sustainable development in the wider community, CDL has galvanised our network of partners and leveraged on our green building expertise to create the zero-energy Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA). As the nation’s first training and networking facility dedicated to sustainability advocacy and capacity building, the academy was supported by six government agencies and over 15 founding industry and non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners. It is also Singapore’s first major cross-sectoral partnership initiative in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Singapore’s climate action. From its launch till end 2017, the academy held close to 30 training programmes for energy managers in the region, and hosted over 40 engagement activities that reached out to the private, public and NGO sectors.
REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Guided by our ethos of ‘Conserving as we Construct’, environmental sustainability has been at the heart of our business operations since 1995. Being the first private-sector property developer in Singapore to achieve the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and ISO 50001 Energy Management System certifications in 2003 and 2014 respectively, we have continued to build on best practices to expand our natural capital as we grow our business.
As part of our ambitious targets for the CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint, we voluntarily raised our carbon emissions intensity reduction target from 25% to 38% by 2030 (from 2007 levels) by adopting the Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach. We are gratified to have achieved 32.8% reduction in carbon emission intensity from 2007 levels as of end 2017, on track to meet our bold target.
Correspondingly, our energy use intensity has dropped by 27.3% from 2007 levels, exceeding our reduction target of 25% by 2030. We will continue to review our progress to ensure that our targets are aligned with global climate actions and goals to limit global warming below 20C. With this in mind, we have started the process of validating our targets externally with the Science-based Targets Initiative – a respectable partnership by the CDP, World Resources Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature.
Additionally, we have made advancements in sustainable building materials at our new developments. The SSA is the first in Singapore to be built with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam) verified to have come from responsible sources. For the construction of Forest Woods condominium which started in 2017, it is designed to adopt at least 42% sustainable building materials.
To future-proof our supply chain, we conducted a scenario planning exercise to identify associated risks and opportunities that emerging trends may pose to our business and strategies moving forward. In preparation for the rising carbon price globally and Singapore’s upcoming carbon tax in 2019, we have completed an internal carbon pricing study, which will be implemented progressively to mitigate climate-related risks and financial exposure of our global operations.
ENSURING A FAIR, SAFE AND INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
Anchored on our strong DNA of business integrity and fair practices, we continued to tighten our control systems and policies to guide our organisation towards an equitable, healthy and inclusive environment where our business and people can thrive together.
In view of the increasing threat of cyber-attacks and importance of data governance to business continuity, we have updated the CDL Computer Security Policies and Standards to promptly inform all employees on cyber security compliance. In addition, we rolled out a series of online cyber security training and periodic simulated phishing attacks to enhance the vigilance of our employees.
Our people are CDL’s greatest assets, and their performance, safety and well-being are vital to our long-term success. As a result of our long-standing workplace health and safety commitment and proactive engagement with our employees, contractors and their workers, we maintained zero fatalities and occupational diseases across CDL’s corporate office, construction sites and commercial properties that we manage in 2017.
To drive organisational excellence, we embarked on the Balanced Scorecard System in 2017 to align cross-functional and individual employee performance with our business goals and corporate objectives. We revamped our performance management framework and introduced flexible benefits to offer personalised benefits to better meet our employees’ needs. Concurrently, we implemented myHR, which consolidates a suite of human resource services under a single platform.
We have always believed that diversity and inclusiveness contribute to strong human capital and performance to support CDL’s business growth. In 2017, we formed an internal Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to promote awareness and adoption of diversity and inclusion within CDL and the wider community. The Task Force complements our Women4Green network, which CDL initiated at the launch of the SSA. It is Singapore’s first network that inspires and empowers women to create a financially, environmentally and socially sustainable future.
In my personal capacity , I am honoured to be part of the Diversity Action Committee initiated by SGX to advocate for more women directors on listed company boards in Singapore. I am also glad to have joined some 1,600 global leaders in pledging support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, an initiative jointly developed by the UN Women and UN Global Compact, to promote gender diversity at the workplace.
We are heartened that CDL is the only real estate management and development company included in the inaugural sector- neutral Bloomberg Gender Equality Index announced in January 2018.
CREATING SHARED ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL VALUE
Despite a challenging year for the domestic and global real estate markets, our revenue in 2017 remained relatively stable at $3.8 billion, and we posted a profit of $538.2 million. Our financial performance was boosted by strong take up of our new residential developments in Singapore and China, as well as steady revenue contributions from our investment properties. Our Green Mark certified residential developments – Gramercy Park and Forest Woods – received overwhelming response from homebuyers, making CDL one of the top-selling private sector developers in Singapore for 2017.
With the creditable business results in 2017, the total dividend for the year amounts to 18 cents per share, a 12.5% increase from 2016.
For the reporting year, CDL’s corporate office in Singapore employed 392 staff and we invested $270,000 to train and develop our employees, building an engaged and resilient workforce.
Our economic contribution also extends to supporting worthy causes and helping the needy. By actively initiating and supporting sustained programmes in four focus areas – environmental conservation, youth development, the arts, and caring for the less fortunate – we seek to deliver a lasting and positive impact on our community.
In partnership with Eco-Business.com and the National Environment Agency, we continue to expand the nationwide EcoBank initiative. Returning for the third year in 2018, the initiative which promotes zero-waste and responsible consumption and disposal collected 17,500 kg of pre- loved items and saved some 7,000 tonnes of carbon from landfill. It also raised close to $33,000 for the Children’s Charities Association over a three-day charity bazaar. As fashion items formed the majority of EcoBank’s collection, we rolled out a new national movement called Fashion 3R to raise public awareness of the responsible purchase and disposal of fashion items.
For the 19th year, CDL rallied the support of our Group of companies in the annual Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day. With the enthusiastic participation from our employees, suppliers and subsidiaries, we raised $185,000 for quality palliative care to terminally ill adults and children.
Our employees also actively volunteered their personal time and efforts to support various community projects, achieving an employee participation rate of over 90%, and about 3,140 volunteer hours.
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
Sustainability is fast becoming the norm throughout the business ecosystem. Companies, investors, financiers and regulators are expected to stay future- ready by integrating sustainability into their strategy and operations.
As we gear up our business operations for the next wave of growth, value creation through ESG integration will remain our top priority. By aligning with global and national sustainability agendas, CDL is poised to capitalise on our strong sustainability leadership, and prevailing opportunities from sustainable investment and development to unlock greater value for our business and stakeholders.
Innovation, climate strategy, and investor and stakeholder engagement will be our key strategic focus areas, as we advance our CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint.
Innovation and Sharing Economy Business Model
In today’s age of disruption, innovation is critical to the long-term viability of any business. As a company with over 50 years of history, it is essential that we constantly stay ahead of competition and remain relevant in the ever-changing global landscape. Our business must proactively evolve to develop higher quality products and create better experiences for our customers.
Over the years, CDL has leveraged our strong financial capital and enterprise agility to invest in new business models and venture into rapidly growing sectors. In January 2017, we invested in China’s leading co-working space operator Distrii. Marking its first international foray, we are bringing Distrii into Singapore, by creating one of the city’s largest co-working facilities at our flagship Republic Plaza in the heart of the Central Business District. The facility is slated to open in 1H 2018 and our new venture is expected to bring in fresh recurring revenue to complement our existing lines of business from 2018 and beyond.
To inculcate a strong culture for innovation within CDL, we created an Enterprise Innovation Committee as an anchor platform for multidisciplinary teams to collaborate and seek new ideas and best practices to drive innovation and business transformation. The Committee will convene on a regular basis to research and review innovation in technologies, product, customer service and operational processes to future-fit our business.
As part of our $2.25 million investment in a research and development (R&D) partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment, the NUS-CDL Tropical Technologies Laboratory (T2 Lab) was completed in end 2017 and R&D works have commenced. The NUS-CDL Smart Green Home Lab, which will be located in the school’s new building, is expected to receive Temporary Occupation Permit by 2020. We look forward to test-bedding the next generation of leading-edge innovations in our future developments to address climate resilience and the future lifestyle needs of our customers and communities.
Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Strategy
As Singapore steps up its commitment to climate action in 2018, we are taking tangible steps towards reducing our carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuel energy. We have set our sights on joining RE100 – a global renewable energy campaign led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP – by reviewing a 100% renewable energy target for our operations by 2050. To help us achieve this ambitious but meaningful goal, we have begun to procure Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for our Singapore operations starting from 2018.
In tandem with increased demand from investors and stakeholders for greater transparency and accountability on climate change, we have taken the lead amongst Singapore companies to publish our climate-related financial disclosures in four key areas as recommended by the TCFD, in this Report.
In accordance with TCFD’s recommendations, we have started a comprehensive climate change scenario analysis in 2018 to identify climate-related risks and opportunities which will have impending financial impacts on our business. This is an extension of our integrated reporting approach that connects our ESG performance with business and financial impacts since 2015. It also complements our proactive ESG disclosure initiatives as seen in our dedicated sustainability microsite and quarterly sustainability reporting introduced in 2017. These aim to provide greater transparency and more timely disclosure to our investors and stakeholders.
Unlocking Financial Value with ESG Integration
CDL believes that ESG has a strong potential to impact the financial performance of businesses. We were the first listed Singapore company to issue a green bond in 2017, tapping into the fast- growing global green financing market. Understanding that rising climate-related risks are a threat to businesses, CDL will continue to explore potential investment avenues through green financing, and unleash business and financial opportunities connected to new economy and green technology ventures.
In the year ahead, we will continue to step up our engagement with the sustainable investment community, to attract like- minded investors and financiers who are supportive of CDL’s value creation strategy. By playing an active role in global networks and initiatives on responsible investment, including the UN Environment Programme – Finance Initiative and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges’ Green Finance Advisory Group, we seek to position CDL as the top investment choice among sustainable investors, and grow the shareholding of responsible investors with longer-term views in investment decisions.
Building a Strong Force for Change through Thought Leadership and Collaboration
Collaborative and innovative partnerships are key to achieving sustainable development. The zero-energy SSA has proven a most timely platform for advocacy, networking and collaboration among the People, Public and Private (3P) sectors to support the SDGs and global climate actions. With 2018 as Singapore’s Year of Climate Action, the government has underscored the need for enhanced efforts and partnerships across all sectors to meet the nation’s climate goals. The SSA will continue to catalyse enhanced engagement between regulators, businesses, NGOs and the community at large.
As youths are the force for change, we made deliberate efforts to build a stronger connection between the SDGs with our arts and youth development initiatives. Our flagship youth case competition has been rebranded as the CDL-GCNS Young SDG Leaders Award with its framework aligned with the SDGs. We have also revamped the CDL Singapore Young Photographer Award by introducing SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities as the theme for 2018, to raise awareness and interest among the arts community in Singapore for sustainable development.
CDL is fully committed to contributing our best to realise the vision of the UN SDGs to build a world in which no one will be left behind amidst climate and sustainable development challenges.
Group Chief Executive Officer
|1||Financing Loss and Damage: A Look at Governance and Implementation Options report released in May 2017|
|2||Climate Investment Opportunities in Emerging Markets report released in 2016|
|3||Foundations of ESG Investing: How ESG Affects Equity Valuation, Risk and Performance report released in November 2017|
|4||UN Environment Inquiry – Accelerating Financial Centre Action for Sustainable Development report released in December 2017|
|5||MSCI Research Report: 2018 ESG Trends to Watch released in January 2018|