2017 was the year that companies and investors caught on to the prevailing opportunities of sustainable development. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission estimated that Asian companies can build US$5 trillion in total incremental value around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 20301. Globally, the opportunity for businesses to advance the SDGs is more than US$12 trillion annually by 2030.
The financial market has also been responding to the global call for sustainable development, as seen in the exponential increase in green finance. Most notably, global green bond issuance hit a record US$155.5 billion in 2017 and is estimated to reach up to US$300 billion in the year ahead2.
At home, Singapore has declared 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, demonstrating the government’s firm commitment to delivering its pledge for the Paris Agreement. The imperative for climate action was echoed in the Singapore Budget 2018 announced in February. A carbon tax will be imposed on large emitters from 2019, sending a clear message to businesses to step up on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency.
Riding on the move towards a low-carbon economy and growth in sustainable investment, CDL issued our inaugural Green Bond in April 2017 – the first by a listed Singapore company. The two- year senior secured bond was fully taken up by institutional investors, raising $100 million at a 1.98% fixed rate. By linking CDL’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) track record with the capital market, we have generated an alternative financing stream by tapping on like-minded investors to further our green building efforts.
To future-proof our business and leverage opportunities presented by the SDGs, we strategically established a new sustainability blueprint – CDL Future Value 2030. The blueprint underpins our sustainability commitment and best practices of over 20 years and sets out clear ESG goals and targets towards 2030, a milestone year for global climate agreement and sustainable development.
Keeping us on course to our 2030 ESG goals and targets, we also initiated a quarterly sustainability report which tracks, measures and discloses our progress on a regular basis. This voluntary initiative complements our earlier effort of creating a dedicated sustainability microsite: www.cdlsustainability.com, enabling us to provide ESG disclosures in a timelier and proactive manner, enhancing engagement with our investors and stakeholders.
Leveraging CDL’s expertise in stakeholder engagement and green building innovation, we set up the Singapore Sustainability Academy – Singapore’s first major facility dedicated to sustainability training and capacity building. The zero-energy academy, established in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS), is a breakthrough cross-sectoral partnership initiative in collaboration with six government agencies and 15 founding industry and non-governmental partners, to support the SDGs and Singapore’s national agenda to tackle climate change.
In the boardroom, diversity has been a hot topic in 2017. The Singapore Exchange and the Diversity Action Committee (DAC) have been advocating for more women directors on the board of Singapore listed companies. Reinforcing board competencies through enhancing diversity is also a key focus recommended in the consultation paper released in January 2018 on the revision of the Code of Corporate Governance (Code).
Ahead of the revised Code, we have adopted a formal Board Diversity Policy in November 2017, which sets out clear policy and framework for promoting diversity on our Board. We also appointed Ms Tan Yee Peng, an independent non- executive female director of CDL, to the Nominating Committee as a testament of our commitment to promote gender diversity. In addition, the Nominating Committee has approved the target to achieve 20% women on our Board by 2020 as recommended by the DAC.
As a testament to CDL’s steadfast commitment to ESG integration, we are listed on 13 leading global sustainability benchmarks including the FTSE4Good Index Series (since 2002), MSCI ESG Leaders Indexes (since 2009) – highest AAA rating, Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations (since 2010) and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (since 2011). CDL was ranked the Regional Sector Leader for Office Sector in the 2017 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark and attained Leadership level for our 2017 carbon disclosures with CDP. Our progress in promoting gender diversity and women leadership has also earned CDL a spot on the inaugural sector- neutral Bloomberg Gender Equality Index announced in January 2018.
To stay relevant and competitive in today’s dynamic business environment with new challenges and technology-driven evolutions, our Board will look to new perspectives and know-how to support the Management in accelerating business growth and achieving greater value for our stakeholders. From February 2018, our Board has started to play a bigger role in advancing CDL’s sustainability leadership with the Sustainability function reporting directly to the Board Sustainability Committee while maintaining an administrative reporting channel to the Group CEO.
Kwek Leng Beng
|1||Better Business, Better World Asia report released in June 2017.|
|2||Climate Bonds Initiative report released in January 2018.|