In 2019, our steady investments in sustainable development (SD) continued to flourish across our portfolio. This was our third full year of implementing our SD 2030 Strategy, with our performance improving steadily each year. I am pleased to report that we are on track to accomplish our 2020 targets and meet our SD vision – to be the leading SD performer in our industry globally by 2030.
In 2019, we ranked number one in Asia and eighth overall out of 23 leading real estate developers from around the world on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. Indeed, for the third year in a row, we were the only company from Hong Kong and Mainland China to be listed on that world index. We also retained our position as Global Sector Leader on the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (“GRESB”) and we were the top company among constituents across all industries on the Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index.
Investment in SD helps us mitigate real risks to our business: climate change, regulatory changes, our ability to attract and retain talent, and the need to remain resilient in the face of market shifts and adversity. Committing to SD also allows us to drive innovation to meet evolving needs and manage emerging issues.
The extent of the global climate emergency came into clear focus in 2019 and Swire Properties is committed to taking timely and meaningful action. We are the first real estate company in Hong Kong and Mainland China to set science-based targets, which were approved by the SBTi (the Science-based Target initiative), the global body that reviews carbon reduction objectives, to ensure that they align with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
Meeting this target will necessitate the continuous adoption of innovative low-carbon, smart and green building technologies that further enhance the energy efficiency of our global property portfolio. We will also need to work even more closely with our tenants and supply chain partners to reduce carbon emissions along value chains – tasks which we eagerly look forward to.
The launch of our first sustainability-linked loan was another expression of confidence in our ability to continue our strong SD performance. This innovative financing mechanism, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, improvement in the Company’s year-on-year environmental, social and governance performance.
It is important to remember that the heart of our SD 2030 Strategy lies at ground level: in the places that we develop and with the people who we work with and work for. We completed our first Places Impact Report, which provides an innovative assessment of the impacts of our placemaking efforts in Taikoo Place and the surrounding community.
We also continued our HOMETOWN HEROES community outreach programme which featured the I AM A DREAM MAKER city-wide youth empowerment scheme and the Swire Properties Placemaking Academy, where our senior management, experts and thought leaders in urban design and community planning shared insights with participating students.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of one of our most enduring icons: Pacific Place, an excellent example of placemaking which has made the Admiralty area a magnet for business, hospitality and leisure activities for three decades, while also acting as a leading example of how environmentally-friendly initiatives and social benefits can be achieved through everyday operations.
The achievements of 2019, and indeed the past decade, would not have been possible without our employees, our partners, our supporters, and our communities. I wish to thank all of you for your commitment to our vision of sustainability.
The next decade will be critical for our company and our planet. We will all need to work together to address important and evolving issues at the local, regional and global levels. I look forward with hope and excitement to what we will achieve in the next ten years and beyond.