CDL, CapitaLand and Singtel among world's most sustainable firms

Three Singapore companies made it to this year's list of the world's 100 most sustainable big corporations, up from two in 2019.

Property developers City Developments (CDL) and CapitaLand came in 36th and 63rd respectively, slipping from the 25th and 33rd spots in the previous year.

Telco Singtel rejoined the list at 95th place, after dropping out last year. It took 63rd place in 2018.

The Global 100 list ranks large corporations across the globe on metrics like reducing carbon and waste, "clean revenue", CEO-to-average-worker-pay ratio and board gender diversity. In its 16th year, the ranking is compiled by Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based sustainable-business magazine and research company.

Its "clean revenue" metric, which counts for 50 per cent of each firm's score, measures the percentage of revenue earned from products or services that have environmental, or well-defined social benefits.

This year's top 100 was selected from a pool of 7,395 publicly listed companies with more than US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) in revenue, each assessed relative to its industry peers using publicly available information.

CDL was first and CapitaLand second among the 229 real estate firms in the study, while Singtel was fourth among the 126 companies in its industry group.

Mr Sherman Kwek, CDL group chief executive, said: "Beyond delivering financial performance, businesses have a responsibility to their investors, stakeholders and the community to drive environmental stewardship."

CapitaLand, on the other hand, links executive compensation to sustainability targets and reaps "clean revenue" from its green real estate portfolio.

"As one of Asia's largest diversified real estate groups, CapitaLand can effect a greater positive influence through our enlarged portfolio and operations," said its chief sustainability officer Lynette Leong.

Only 18 companies in this year's Global 100 hail from Asia. Forty-nine are from Europe, while the US and Canada accounted for 29. Latin America boasts just three members on the list, all from Brazil, and South Africa's Standard Bank was the only representative of the African continent.

The list includes 28 companies that were not on the Global 100 last year. BYD - China's biggest electric carmaker - is a new entrant, along with Hong Kong's Vitasoy.

The full rankings were unveiled on the sidelines of this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which began yesterday.

The overall top-ranked company this year is Danish renewable energy provider Orsted. The firm, which a decade ago produced 85 per cent of its energy from fossil fuels and 15 per cent from renewable energy, has reversed that proportion and targets to "essentially become carbon neutral" by 2025.

"Doing good and doing well must go together," said Orsted CEO Henrik Poulsen. Since Orsted joined the stock market in 2016, the company's value has more than doubled to US$40 billion.

Corporate Knights said this year's Global 100 firms demonstrate that top sustainability performers tend to last longer and perform better for investors than comparable ones.

The average age of a Global 100 company is 83 years, while the average age of a firm in the MSCI ACWI, a flagship global equity index, is 49 years. From Feb 1, 2005, to Dec 31, 2019, the Global 100 companies made an annualised net investment return of 7.3 per cent compared with 7 per cent for the MSCI ACWI.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2020, with the headline 'CDL, CapitaLand and Singtel among world's most sustainable firms'. Subscribe