Group CEO Statement

The strategic goals and long-term ESG targets set under the CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint established in 2017 have given us a clear direction to mitigate climate-related risks and map out adaptation strategies for the future.

Dear Stakeholders,

We are in an era where climate change has become a mainstream political, business and social issue. Nearly every region on the planet felt the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters in 2018.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2015 to 2018 were the four hottest years on record1. Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also reached a new record high in 20182. Unless emissions are curbed, the World Bank predicts the number of people who would be displaced from their homes due to climate change could surge to 140 million by 20503.

On a positive note, 2018 was also a significant year in which sustainable investing gained momentum globally. More sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and investors recognise the need to consider the non-financial and long-term impact of a company’s operations in their fiduciary duty as stewards of capital. Over 25% of the world’s assets under management, valued at US$23 trillion by the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, now incorporates a sustainable-investing mandate, with about US$48.7 trillion of that in the United States, US$12 trillion in Europe and the rest of $31.3 trillion shared by other regions4. Financiers are also increasingly pegging lending rates to the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) performance of corporate borrowers. In addition, the global green bond market is estimated to reach US$250 billion in 2019, up from US$167.3 billion in 20185.


In line with CDL’s ethos of “Conserving as We Construct”, our ESG-centric vision has not only built CDL’s strong reputation as a responsible developer but also guided us to future-proof our business. The strategic goals and long-term ESG targets of our CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint established in 2017 have given us a clear direction to mitigate climate-related risks and map out adaptation strategies for the future.

Based on the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) framework, we have continued to harness our six capitals – financial, organisational, natural, manufactured, human, social and relationships – in executing our ESG strategies. This approach has also guided us in our articulation of how our sustainability strategy and efforts have generated tangible and enduring value for our stakeholders.


Buildings play a major part in the global movement towards a low carbon economy, given their tremendous impact on the environment. The World Green Building Council has set net zero carbon targets for new buildings by 2030, and for all buildings by 20506. Sharing the same vision, Singapore’s Green Building Masterplan by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) targets to green 80% of all buildings in Singapore by 2030.

CDL started our green building journey since the early 2000s. For all new developments, we made the commitment to invest 2% to 5% of the construction cost in green design and sustainable features.

Raising Energy Efficiency and Adoption of Solar Energy

Energy efficiency has been our top priority in the way we develop and manage our properties. Through energy-efficient retrofitting, CDL achieved more than $24 million in savings from 2012 to 2018 for eight commercial buildings that we own and manage.

Advancing our sourcing strategy for renewable energy in 2018, we became one of the two pioneer buyers of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) in Singapore using a blockchain-enabled platform that offers convenient, seamless and secure digital transactions. By procuring locally-sourced RECs, 100% of electricity consumed by the operations of CDL’s headquarters in 2018 can be attributed to renewable sources.

In climate-stressed Singapore, the development of “Super Low Energy” (SLE) buildings7 is the way forward and CDL was among the first developers and building owners to pledge our commitment in 2018 to achieve at least one SLE project in the next five years.

To achieve SLE status, buildings must attain at least 60% energy savings based on the 2005 building code by adopting energy-efficient measures and onsite renewable energy.

Pioneer in Green Financing

CDL launched our maiden $100-million green bond issuance in 2017, a first by a listed Singapore real estate company. Proceeds from the bond refinanced the cost of upgrading and retrofitting our flagship Republic Plaza, maintaining it at the Green Mark Platinum level.

For spearheading green bonds in Singapore, CDL was awarded under the ‘New Countries Taking Green Bonds Global’ category at Climate Bonds Initiative’s prestigious Green Bond Pioneer Awards 2018.

Going Green Together with Tenants and Occupants

As occupants’ activities can account for some 50% of a building’s electricity consumption, CDL proactively engages our commercial tenants to adopt low-carbon practices. Our CDL Green Lease Partnership Program has garnered support from 100% of our tenants since end 2017. We also organised “go-green” initiatives for our tenants, such as talks, movie screenings and workshops on environment-related issues.

In support of the SDGs and Singapore’s focus on promoting green spaces that also benefit occupants’ health and well-being, CDL held the inaugural SDG City Challenge at South Beach last year. We thank BCA, HPB and Sport Singapore (Sport SG) for supporting this 3P (Public, Private and People) initiative which attracted close to 1,000 participants.


To minimise buildings’ environmental impact, asset owners must persist in their ESG efforts and track performance for continued improvement. 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 integrated key ISO management systems to maintain high resource and energy-efficiency at our buildings.

As part of our low carbon strategy, we voluntarily validated our carbon emissions intensity reduction targets under the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature. Under the CDL Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint, we have increased our carbon emissions reduction target from 38% to 59% (from baseline year of 2007) and aim to reduce embodied carbon in building materials by 24% compared to their conventional equivalents. Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc (M&C), the major listed subsidiary of the CDL Group, has also committed to set science-based targets by 2025.

As at December 2018, we have made steady progress – energy usage intensity decreased by 27% from 2007 levels, against our 2030 target of 35%, and water usage decreased by 32% from 2007 levels, meeting our 2018 target.


In spite of challenging market conditions, CDL Group posted record revenue for FY 2018, crossing $4 billion for the first time in history. Profit after tax and minority interests (PATMI) increased (Restated FY 2017: $522.2 million) to $557.3 million in FY 2018. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 12.4% to $1.2 billion in FY 2018, bolstered by the strong recognition of profits from the property development segment.

Our property development division continued to be the lead contributor making up 71% of FY 2018 pre-tax profits. Our strong performance was underpinned by several local and overseas projects. In Singapore, New Futura, Gramercy Park, The Tapestry and The Criterion Executive Condominium (EC) projects were key contributors to profit. We also benefitted from our overseas diversification strategy with profit recognition primarily from Hong Leong City Center in Suzhou and Park Court Aoyama The Tower in Tokyo. CDL also remained as one of Singapore’s top-selling developers. Together with our JV associates, we sold 1,113 residential units, including ECs, with a total sales value of $2.2 billion. Our wholly-owned subsidiary CDL China Limited, together with its JV associates, sold 259 residential units and 18 villas in China in 2018, achieving a total sales value of RMB 1.32 billion (approximately $269 million).

In 2018, we embarked on our G-E-T strategy – focusing on Growth, Enhancement and Transformation, and continued to replenish our land bank of development projects, both locally and overseas, while also actively growing our recurring income streams to provide a stronger base for the Group. To drive performance, we will enhance, reposition or redevelop our existing commercial properties while also striving to attain higher operational efficiency. To renew and reposition our business model for the future, we continue to forge new partnerships and invest strategically in new economy and technology ventures, as well as sizable game-changing platforms, that will transform our product offerings and enhance our value propositions.


At CDL, we believe in diversity across genders, age groups, cultures and geographies. In 2018, we were the only real estate management and development company in the world to be listed in the inaugural sector-neutral Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) and we are honoured to be included in the Index for the second consecutive year in 2019.

We have also expanded our initiatives to promote women diversity and empowerment to the community. Through CDL’s Women4Green Network launched in 2017, we have reached out to women executives from diverse industries and engaged them to drive the green agenda.

For our efforts to promote workplace safety, CDL was one of the five long-serving BizSAFE Mentors to receive the special recognition award at the 10th BizSAFE Convention in 2018. We also became the only developer in Singapore to win the Workplace Safety and Health Award for 11 consecutive years.

In 2018, CDL’s corporate office in Singapore employed 400 staff and we invested over $130,000 in training and developing our employees to be a future-ready and engaged workforce. To enhance employees’ well-being, we have an Employee Assistance Program to provide support for any issues concerning work, family matters and interpersonal relationships. We are honoured to be recognised as the Top Employer Brand for our sector at the 2018 Influential Brands awards.


Launched in June 2017, the Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA) has grown in a short span of time into a vibrant knowledge and networking hub on sustainability. As of December 2018, the SSA has reached out to more than 8,800 international and local stakeholders from the 3P sectors, including many high-profile diplomats, politicians and business leaders.

More than 210 sustainability-themed events including 89 training courses have been held in this zero-energy facility at City Square Mall, Singapore’s first eco-mall. We are confident that the SSA’s extensive and diverse outreach will continue to advance CDL’s leadership in advocating sustainability and stakeholder engagement.

We also rolled out a number of notable community outreach initiatives:

  • Singapore Series of UN Environment’s #BeatPlasticPollution Campaign

    To mark Singapore’s Year of Climate Action, CDL and Global Initiatives rallied 30 like-minded partners from the 3P sectors to launch this initiative on World Environment Day. Three impressive art installations were created from some 40,000 recycled plastic bottles, raising awareness about the scourge of single-use plastic waste.

  • EcoBank

    This annual 3P initiative promotes responsible consumption and waste disposal in Singapore. A record 18.5 tonnes of pre-loved goods was collected over five weeks and about 800 volunteers lent their support to this good cause.

  • Youth4Climate Festival

    The first-ever Youth4Climate festival was held in partnership with National Parks Board and National Environment Agency (NEA) to offer youths a platform to express their concern for climate change and rally Singaporeans towards a greener and more eco-conscious future.

  • Space4Good@Distrii

    Launched in conjunction with the opening of Distrii, the next-generation technology-driven co-working facility at Republic Plaza, international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) that advocate sustainable development and responsible practices can enjoy complimentary use of spaces at Distrii’s outlets in Singapore and China.

Through City Sunshine Club, CDL’s employee volunteering platform, our employees have also been actively volunteering their time and effort to support various community projects, achieving a participation rate of over 93% and about 2,900 volunteer hours.

As a sustainability pioneer, CDL has continued to share our insights and best practices at various local and international industry summits, conferences and panel discussions to advocate for a sustainable future. We are proud that our Chief Sustainability Officer, Ms Esther An, became the first person from Singapore to be named one of the UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers in 2018. The accolade recognises individuals from around the world who champion the SDGs through their companies and inspire others to join the movement.


Looking ahead, the benefits of climate action are greater than before, while the costs of inaction continue to mount.

Our ESG-centric strategy ahead will be aligned with the insights of the Global Commission on Climate Change and Economy8.

We believe this forward-looking approach will continue to unlock opportunities in a resilient, equitable and inclusive future economy, enabling us to achieve the goals and targets of our Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint.

Innovation and Sharing Economy Business Model

  • Adopting sustainability-linked innovations

    With 2019 designated as Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste, we will enhance our waste reduction intensity and recycling performance through adopting sustainability-linked innovations.

    Gush!, a paint innovation start-up, is involved in a pilot programme at our Nouvel 18 project to test out their mould-prevention solution for buildings while another start-up, UglyGood, has partnered our subsidiary, CBM Pte Ltd, to implement a trial for their environmentally-safe, enzyme-based cleaning solutions.

    CDL has also stepped up our internal and external engagement for waste reduction at our corporate office and managed properties. We embarked on a food waste treatment system pilot test at Le Grove Serviced Residences with support from NEA in late 2018. If proven feasible, this initiative will be expanded to more properties.

  • Harnessing our innovative capabilities to tackle global warming

    Satellite data from NASA revealed the alarming fact that Singapore is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe, at 0.25°C per decade. We are almost one degree hotter than we were in the 1950s, according to data from the Centre for Climate Research Singapore9.

    If the current rate of carbon emissions continues to rise, Singapore’s daily temperatures could reach 0.25°C to 37°C by the turn of the century. Compounded by rising humidity, our bodies will struggle to cope with the heat.

    In response to this risk, CDL is tapping our collaborations with academics and researchers in search of solutions to raise the comfort and thermal levels of homes. We are glad to see progress on pilot projects at the NUS-CDL Tropical Technologies (T2) Lab which started operations in early 2018. In January 2019, we celebrated the official opening of Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building, the School of Design and Environment Building 4 where the NUS-CDL Smart Green Home is located. The collaboration is set to develop better cooling technologies and green building solutions which may open new sustainability-related economic opportunities for our business.

  • Green guidelines and policies across the value chain

    CDL has regularly reviewed and upgraded our green procurement guidelines established since 2008. Aligned with our corporate EHS Policy, the guidelines encourage the use of eco-friendly and sustainable building materials. An example is the use of non-toxic materials like low volatile organic compounds paint. All our builders, suppliers and vendors of new development and investment properties are all subject to this set of guidelines.

    With clear guidelines and active engagement of suppliers, we aim to create tangible environmental, social, and business benefits for our stakeholders and the environment at large.

  • Contributing to Singapore’s green building targets

    In support of Singapore’s Green Building Masterplan and the BCA Green Mark scheme, CDL will capitalise on our green building know-how and experience to raise the bar for smart building management solutions and green features in our new developments and asset enhancement initiatives.

    Given the close link between green infrastructure and the physical well-being and work productivity of occupants, CDL will continue our partnership with BCA, HPB and Sport Singapore to raise public awareness of these benefits.

  • Supporting vulnerable communities beyond our shores

    Climate-related disasters threaten the habitats and livelihoods of communities that lack the financial means to prevent or cope in such situations. Many countries are facing the urgent need to plug the gaps in their social and infrastructural needs.

    CDL is exploring the possibility of providing support to vulnerable communities beyond Singapore’s shores. We can extend our construction knowhow, expertise in green buildings and co-working spaces, as well as our experience in green financing to address the needs of these overseas communities. As a force for good and an advocate for the SDGs, CDL believes that such potential ventures will pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable world.

Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Strategy

Our climate change scenario planning exercise, started in early 2018, has helped us to examine how a twoand four-degree-warmer global situation may impact our business continuity. With the commencement of carbon tax in Singapore this year and other parts of the world we operate in, CDL has conducted an internal carbon pricing exercise to progressively reduce emissions and mitigate climate-related risks as well as the financial exposure of our global operations. In November 2018, the Singapore chapter of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition was co-launched by the World Bank Group and Global Compact Network Singapore. As a member of this coalition, CDL is committed to identifying synergies, sharing knowledge and exploring collaborations with industry players and government on the use of internal carbon pricing as a mechanism to reduce emissions.

As the world moves towards a low-carbon economy, the transition to electric vehicles (EV) is also accelerating. In support of Singapore’s push for greater use of EVs, CDL will increase the number of EV charging points and shared EV lots at our properties.

In support of the drive towards “Net Zero” by the World Green Building Council, we will continue to closely track the effectiveness of carbon management at our buildings using the ISO 16745 standard. By reporting the carbon intensity disclosure for our flagship Republic Plaza, CDL became the first company in Singapore to have attained ISO 16745 in 2018.

From July 2019, the water tariff in Singapore will increase by 30% from 2016 price levels, to an average of $2.50/m3. The potential impact of a water price hike is especially significant for Singapore, as a study by the World Resources Institute showed that our island nation is one of the most likely countries to be waterstressed in 2040.

For our operations in Singapore, CDL is well on track to reduce our water consumption intensity by 38% in 2030, from our baseline year of 2007.

Unlocking Financial Value with ESG Integration

Complementing the global agenda to fight climate change is the rapid growth of ESG investing. Our proven track record for ESG integration in our business has helped us achieve good ratings on notable global sustainability rankings and benchmarks. Building on the momentum from our green bond issue, CDL will continue to explore opportunities for green financing.

Concurrently, to tackle the threats posed by climaterelated risks, we are seeking out green technologies and smart building solutions that will enhance our business resilience.

By playing an active role in global networks and initiatives on responsible investment, such as the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative and Sustainable Stock Exchanges’ Green Finance Advisory Group, we are in a position to tap the insights and expectations of global investors and financial institutions.

We are heartened by the strong interest from the green investment community in CDL’s integrated sustainability strategy and ESG management. We look forward to attracting and engaging with more likeminded investors and financiers in the years ahead.

Propelling Change through Thought Leadership and Collaboration

Our SSA is an exemplary case study in support of SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals. As a hub that draws passionate green advocates and strong collaborators, the impact of the SSA’s outreach is amplified. The SSA will continue to spur close engagement between regulators, businesses, NGOs and the community at large.

We recognise that risks associated with climate, human resource and technology cannot be fully eliminated. What will steer us ahead is having the right mindset – being proactive, willing to take bold actions and working together as one with other stakeholders within the larger ecosystem. With the collective efforts of global green-minded businesses, we can create a sea of change. Through our commitment to drive transformations aligned to the SDGs, CDL will continue to forge strategic collaborations and breakthroughs in ideas and technology. Building on our strong legacy and new capabilities, we will forge ahead in the new climate economy by building sustainable communities and cities.

Sherman Kwek
Group Chief Executive Officer

1 Analysis report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 6 February 2019
2 WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, November 2018
3 “Climate migration to surge by 2050” on, 20 March 2018
4 “Sustainable Signals: Asset Owners Embrace Sustainability”, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, June 2018
5 Estimates by Climate Bonds Initiative
6 The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment challenges companies, cities, states and regions to reach Net Zero operating emissions in their portfolios by 2030, and to advocate for all buildings to be Net Zero in operation by 2050
7 News Release by Building and Construction Authority, 5 September 2018
8 Paper on “The New Climate Economy” by the Global Commission on Climate Change and Economy
9 “Killer Heat: Why It Matters”, Channel News Asia, 28 December 2018