Group CEO's Statement
CDL, alongside 50 of the world’s largest corporations, is proud to be a signatory of the Action Declaration on Climate Policy Engagement launched at COP27 by Corporate Knights and the Global 100 Council.
As we approach a climate tipping point, the world must accelerate action to address climate change and cap global warming to 1.5°C by 2030. Decarbonisation efforts need to be redoubled this decade and the “blue” component (our oceans) of the “green” transition towards a low-carbon economy cannot be overlooked. Poverty, biodiversity decline, and climate change cannot be tackled in isolation and the oceans are a critical part of this balancing act. No region, country or individual is spared from the impact of this global climate emergency.
To meet climate goals, the need to address renewable energy, energy efficiency, and circular economy transitions is more imminent than ever. While renewables can address 55% of GHG emissions, tackling the remaining 45% through circular economy solutions is imperative. This sentiment resonated at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, which rallied global leaders together and provided renewed hope for the global collaboration and implementation of climate action.
Zeroing in on Positive Impact
Since embracing sustainability in our business over two decades ago, we have learnt that companies can create a positive impact and achieve sustained growth by turning risks into opportunities. Building upon our corporate ethos of “Conserving as We Construct” since 1995, CDL’s ESG strategy continues to guide our value creation model to achieve our three deliverables with positive impact: “Decarbonisation”, “Digitalisation and Innovation”, and “Disclosure and Communication”.
In 2021, CDL became Southeast Asia’s first real estate conglomerate to sign the WorldGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment – a global pledge to achieve net zero operational carbon by 2030. This was then expanded to include maximum embodied carbon reduction in our new developments and compensation of all residual upfront emissions. In December 2021, we further revised our Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)-validated GHG emissions intensity reduction targets (Scope 1, 2 and 3) to be aligned with a 1.5°C warmer scenario, with additional targets to reduce Scope 3 emissions. In 2022, we stepped up on operationalising and tracking our carbon reduction performance for Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions against these SBTi-validated targets.
As one of the first four companies in Singapore to adopt the TCFD framework since 2017, we completed our third Climate Change Scenario Study in December 2022.1 This study was focused on CDL’s readiness for physical and transitional risks. The scope and region included under the CDL Group were expanded, given the rising urgency, scale, and severity of climate change. The study considered the disruptions caused by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly impacted business operations and financial performance.
As a global business, CDL, alongside 50 of the world’s largest corporations, is proud to be a signatory of the Action Declaration on Climate Policy Engagement launched at COP27 by Corporate Knights and the Global 100 Council. Through this declaration, CDL reaffirmed our commitment towards supporting climate action aligned with the Paris Agreement while working with our stakeholders, including industry partners, trade associations, and policymakers, to effect faster change.
On the social front, CDL signed the G20 Alliance for Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation, also known as the G20 Empower 2022. The G20 Empower aims to accelerate women’s leadership and empowerment in the private sector. Women employees form close to 70% of CDL’s workforce. Hence, empowering women and supporting their pursuit of career and personal development are fundamental to our corporate sustainability strategy. We believe diversity and inclusion enrich our corporate culture and strategically enhance our human capital and performance.
Integration: Embracing ESG Stewardship for Business Advantage
In October 2022, the Singapore Government has further raised its climate ambition, committing to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To support this, the SGX RegCo has been progressively enhancing sustainability reporting for companies, including making climate reporting progressively mandatory for some sectors of issuers from FY2023.2
In June 2022, the ACRA and SGX RegCo jointly set up the SRAC to advise on a sustainability reporting roadmap for Singapore-incorporated companies. We are honoured that our very own Ms Esther An, CDL’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), was appointed as the Chairperson. With her valuable experience in publishing CDL’s sustainability reports for 16 years, she can lead the charge in raising the sustainability reporting standards in Singapore.
In October 2022, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) announced the use of TCFD as the basis for its standards.3 The ISSB standards, slated to be published in 2023, will require additional disclosures in Scope 3, along with Scopes 1 and 2. In anticipation of this, CDL has continued to raise the bar in tackling Scope 3 emissions through closer strategic alignment and integration with our wider global value chain, including key subsidiaries such as M&C, CBM Pte Ltd, and our supply chain.4 Our renewed SBTi-validated targets aligned with 1.5°C emissions reduction target of 58.8% under Scope 3 (category 15) will extend to all major subsidiaries.5
To address changing stakeholder expectations, tackle emerging risks and future-proof our business, we have conducted annual materiality assessments since 2014. In 2022, innovation emerged as our top material issue, followed by energy efficiency and adoption of renewables, climate resilience, ethical and transparent business, as well as water and waste management.
Innovation: Decarbonising our Footprint through New Solutions
Decarbonisation is only possible with effective collaboration amongst the wider ecosystem to create and implement smart and sustainable solutions. Therefore, it is unsurprising that innovation was our top material issue in 2022.
In line with the SG Green Building Masterplan’s 80-80-80 goals, CDL has been committed to enhancing our existing assets and achieving Super Low Energy Buildings (SLEB) for 80% of our owned and managed buildings by 2030. With this in mind, we have set new benchmarks for two of our developments: our Newport Plaza mixed-use development, which achieved Singapore’s first Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy (SLE) Certification for Residential Building as well as for Serviced Apartments, Office and Retail Buildings; and our Copen Grand Executive Condominium (EC), which achieved Singapore’s first BCA Green Mark Platinum SLE EC.
In the past year, CDL has prioritised and intensified our use of innovative and viable green building technology and circular economy solutions. Our strategic partnerships with various start-ups continue, including using Cool Paint at the facade of our assets, such as Jungceylon Shopping Center in Phuket, Thailand, to reduce surface temperature by up to 8°C. At CDL’s Irwell Hill Residences, we piloted another start-up’s battery energy storage system to replace dieselpowered generators at construction sites, successfully achieving an 85% reduction in carbon emissions over a 90-day test period. By implementing an innovative self-learning building intelligence system at Republic Plaza, we optimised building air-conditioning performance, achieving a 22% improvement in occupants’ comfort.
CDL continues to advocate climate action amongst our stakeholders. At the 8th World Cities Summit in August 2022, jointly organised by Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, CDL sponsored the City Innovators Stage. We showcased 13 innovator partners with solutions to future-proof the built environment and young start-ups with future-forward solutions to contribute to a low-carbon and sustainable future.
Investment: Transition Finance towards a Net Zero Future
Amid the challenges and disruptions we have faced over the past three years, we have steadfastly executed our Growth, Enhancement and Transformation (GET) strategy while keeping a sustainability-focused mindset. We have progressively enhanced our ESG targets, expanded our scope and worked towards our ambitious net zero carbon commitments. CDL’s strong profits in 2022 show that businesses can do well and do good simultaneously.
In September 2021, CDL became a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). As of December 2022, the PRI has 5,319 signatories, representing US$121 trillion of AUM, signalling a rapidly accelerating transition towards sustainable assets.6
CDL has taken a proactive assessment of potential portfolio climate risks and opportunities, and we rolled out our Sustainable Investment Principles (SIP) in December 2021. The SIP is aligned with global best practices in the Glasgow Climate Pact, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the PRI and more. Also in 2021, our Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Ms Yiong Yim Ming, joined the UN Global Compact’s CFO Taskforce for the SDGs alongside members from other leading companies to support the Taskforce in the global transformation of corporate and sustainable finance.
Green finance is a key enabler in accelerating climate action. Since issuing our first green bond in 2017, we have amassed more than S$3 billion of sustainable finance, including various green loans and a green revolving credit facility. For our successful R&D and pilot of DigiHUB, we also secured a discount for the SDG Innovation Loan provided by DBS Bank Ltd. in 2019, making us the first Singapore entity to achieve a discount on a sustainability-linked loan. In October 2022, we renewed our S$250 million SDG Innovation Loan, which was secured in 2019.
Impact: Building Sustainable Value Chains and Communities
For over two decades, CDL has firmly believed that what gets measured gets managed. We are tracking, managing and reporting the impact of our sustainability efforts, aligned with global best practices. Since our first report published in 2008, we have released 16 annual sustainability reports covering an increasingly wider scope.
In July 2022, CDL emerged as the top Singapore company for climate-related reporting practices in the Climate Reporting in ASEAN – State of Corporate Practices report published by GRI and the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Governance and Sustainability. We are honoured to be recognised for our reporting, management of climate risks and opportunities, and alignment with global sustainability frameworks, including TCFD, IPCC and other climate-risk approaches. We continue to be listed on leading global sustainability ratings and rankings, which have enabled us to benchmark our performance. For the full listing, please refer to pages 6-7 of this report. Some of our achievements include:
- Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World by Corporate Knights: Ranked 28th in 2023 and maintained ranking as the world’s most sustainable real estate management and development company for the fifth consecutive year as well as the only Singapore company listed for 14 consecutive years
- CDP: The only company in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong to maintain double ‘A’s for climate change (since 2018) and water security (since 2019)
- MSCI ESG Research: Maintained ‘AAA’ leader rating since 2010
- FT-Nikkei-Statista Climate Leaders Asia Pacific 2022: One of four Singapore companies and the only Singapore property company to be listed
- Sustainalytics: 2023 Global 50 Top-Rated, Industry TopRated and Regional Top-Rated
- Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI): The only Singapore real estate company listed since 2018
CDL is also proud to be a leading developer with a pioneering commitment to green buildings in Singapore, with 120 BCA Green Mark developments since the Green Mark scheme became mandatory in 2008. We have achieved approximately S$38 million in energy savings from energy-efficient retrofitting initiatives across all our commercial buildings from 2012 to 2022. Our three SLEB projects are further testament to our effective adoption of green building and low-carbon technologies. Going forward, we remain steadfast in our decarbonisation journey with continual improvements in energy efficiency.
For our efforts in collaborating with our suppliers to accelerate climate action, CDL is honoured to be the only real estate company in Southeast Asia and the only Singapore company to be awarded the 2022 CDP Supplier Engagement Leader for the third consecutive year. This recognition places CDL amongst the top 8% of companies assessed by CDP for supplier engagement on climate change.
Engaging stakeholders and changing mindsets and behaviours are essential in the global race to zero. This can only be achieved through collaboration with multistakeholders to generate a multiplier effect, amplifying social impact. CDL has continued our advocacy and training work in climate action aligned with the SDGs through the Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA), designed and built in 2017 as Singapore’s first ground-up and zero-energy facility.
In 2022, we actively hosted, moderated and participated in 80 events at the SSA, ranging from panel discussions to educational webinars in partnership with esteemed institutions. To continue building sustainable communities, some key initiatives included the 3rd My Tree House “We Love Our Planet” Eco-Storytelling Contest, 6th CDL E-Generation Challenge, 12th CDL-GCNS Youth SDG Leaders Award, and our “Keep Calm and Love Our Planet” campaign. Our flagship environmental outreach programme, the Youth4Climate Festival, also made a physical comeback in 2022 after a two-year in-person hiatus, rallying youths to accelerate climate action.
To share our ESG integration journey, CDL has been invited to speak at various local and international platforms. In 2022, our CSO spoke at 104 local and international forums and conferences, covering topics such as strategic SDG integration, moving towards a net zero carbon future and more. CDL was also amongst a few selected Singapore private sector companies to share our business case at the inaugural Singapore Pavilion at COP27, led by the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore alongside the National Council of Social Service, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Temasek Holdings.
In November 2022, CDL was one of 25 companies on Steward Leadership 25’s inaugural annual listing of notable organisational initiatives in the region. Organised by Stewardship Asia Centre and Singapore Press Holdings, this listing recognises initiatives that create a better collective future for stakeholders, society, future generations, and the environment. We are honoured to be lauded for our SSA initiative, touted as a collaborative space to empower sustainability. CDL will continue to develop the SSA as a dynamic hub for thought leadership and capacity building, creating an even greater force for change towards a more sustainable future.
Collaborative and consistent efforts across the public, private and people sectors can catalyse sustainable development spanning the green and blue economies. With 80% of pollution in the marine environment coming from land, the climate crisis is an ocean crisis.7 The ocean influences all natural cycles and directly or indirectly involves all economic sectors. A green ecosystem is only possible with the blue economy. World-renowned marine biologist and oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle aptly noted – “No Water, No Life. No Blue, No Green.”8 CDL believes that our ocean is the health of humanity.
In support of SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and as part of our long-standing partnership with National Parks Board, we launched the second edition of our Climate Action Exhibition series at the CDL Green Gallery in Singapore Botanic Gardens in April 2022. Themed “Change the Present, Save the Ocean.”, the exhibit illustrated the interconnectedness of climate change and the health of our oceans, people, and the planet.
CDL was glad to have the first TIME Magazine Hero of the Planet, Dr Earle, alongside Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development, at the opening ceremony. In his opening remarks, Minister Desmond Lee recognised that “CDL has been flying the flag of sustainability … in its everyday work, in its support for NGOs and sustainability activities, and in developing projects in Singapore and around the world.”9 CDL is humbled by his encouraging words and will stay the course and continue to take proactive actions through our Public-Private Partnerships, accelerating climate education and outreach within our communities.
Looking Ahead – Implementing Change, Adding Purpose to the Triple Bottom Line
The world economy could shrink by 18% in the next 30 years if no action is taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the Swiss Re Institute warns.10 If climate action is taken, this figure can lessen to approximately 11% to 14% and could even be as low as 4% if the 2015 Paris Agreement targets are met. This simply reflects the strong business case of embracing sustainability into businesses.
Humanity has less than three years to significantly slow down the rise of planet-warming carbon emissions and less than a decade to slash them almost in half.11 Global emissions are now on track to blow past the 1.5°C warming limit envisioned in the 2015 Paris Agreement and reach 3.2°C by the end of the century.
Released at COP27, the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction found that the sector accounted for over 34% of energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2021.12 According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction report, the gap between the climate performance of the sector and the 2050 decarbonisation pathway is widening.
CDL will remain steadfast in our long-standing commitment to accelerate change along our value chain and create a positive impact through our business. With CDL’s Future Value 2030 sustainability blueprint guiding our ESG goals and strategies, we are confident that our robust and multi-pronged sustainability strategy will help to future-proof our business.
I want to thank all our stakeholders for your unwavering support of CDL’s vision, commitment, and efforts towards sustainability. The race to zero requires conviction and collaboration amongst all stakeholders, including regulators, businesses, investors, customers, business partners and colleagues. The confidence and encouragement we have received across our value chain have been crucial as we continue to push the green agenda forward with a greater sense of urgency. Together, as a growing force for change, we will be able to tackle the global climate emergency and create a positive impact for a sustainable future.
Group Chief Executive Officer
|1||Based on the latest research and scenario analysis from global climate benchmarks such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Energy Agency, the Network for Greening the Financial System, and the World Bank.|
|2||SGX RegCo charts the way forward on mandatory climate reporting, wants board diversity disclosures, 26 August 2021.|
|3||ISSB confirms requirement to use climate-related scenario analysis, 1 November 2022.|
|4||In 2019, M&C announced its SBTi-validated 2°C target for absolute emissions reduction by 27% for owned and managed hotels under Scope 1 and 2.|
|5||Based on publicly disclosure data from 2016 to 2020.|
|6||UN PRI Signatory Update (October to December 2022).|
|7||The Climate Crisis is an Ocean Crisis (The Economist), 28 October 2020.|
|8||No Blue, No Green (Mission Blue), 13 April 2013.|
|9||Opening Remarks by Minister Desmond Lee at the Launch of the Climate Action Exhibition, 11 April 2022.|
|10||Climate change has cost the EU €145 billion in a decade – World Economic Forum, 2 December 2022.|
|11||UN climate report: It’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, 4 April 2022.|
|12||2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, 9 November 2022.|