Our ESG strategic framework is aimed at setting high-level, overarching goals that reflect our commitment to the goals of the UN Global Compact and our moonshot vision. Our priorities reflect the fact that real estate assets are a long-term asset class; and the impact of environmental and social factors is based on the location of the building concerned, and the impact these buildings have on their surroundings and the communities in their vicinity. The achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a cornerstone of our strategy.
The objectives of our strategy are to:
- ensure that sustainability forms an integral part of our day-to-day business operations and decision-making processes throughout the life cycle of our properties
- pursue opportunities to solve societal challenges through business innovation and collaboration
- promote the creation of sustainable partnerships, not only within our value chain but also within the real estate industry and with the public sector.
UN Global Compact
The social, ethics and transformation committee monitors our activities against the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on an annual basis.
We have formally committed to the UN Global Compact and communicate our progress against each of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, which will be measured in accordance with this strategy.
For more information, please read our 2021 ESG report
Redefine conducted a materiality analysis in October 2020 across all 17 SDGs to identify the areas of business or society where we can make the most significant impact, and reviews these on an annual basis. The analysis grouped the SDGs per stakeholder, and per the anticipated impact that Redefine can achieve.
The analysis includes:
- the primary SDGs in terms of which we can make the most significant impact
- the secondary SDGs that we can implement, which will influence the achievement of the primary SDGs
- the SDGs that we will not currently commit to, on the basis that we only have a limited impact on them at this point.
Good Health and Well-being
Clean Water and Sanitation
Affordable and Clean Energy
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Responsible Consumption and Production
Life below Water
Life on Land
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Partnerships for the Goals
We will review the continued suitability of the SDGs every three years to ensure that the goals remain relevant, and any new priorities or stakeholder groups associated with the achievement of the goals are duly incorporated.
We are committed to providing financially relevant sustainability information through our public reporting, for the benefit of our key stakeholders. We endeavour to align our sustainability reporting to the following reporting frameworks, to the extent that they are useful:
SASB: Real Estate and Infrastructure Standard. To the extent that further sustainability-related reporting standards are available in other SASB industry-specific standards, we incorporate these to provide financially relevant sustainability information across all elements of ESG for the benefit of key stakeholders.
TCFD: While this is a climate risk management tool, it includes the fundamental principles for effective disclosure, which demonstrates our climate risk management framework to our key stakeholders.
UN GRI: Although we are not committed to full alignment to the UN GRI, aspects of the UN GRI have been identified to the extent that they can assist us to improve our reporting from a social and governance perspective and are incorporated into our reporting.
For more information, please view our Integrated report suite 2021
The alignment to TCFD and SASB has been implemented, on an incremental basis, in our 2021 financial year end reports, which will be released in December.
Participation in sustainability indices and benchmarks
While our approach to sustainability requires us to consider the realities of our business model and operating context, we continue to use international benchmarks and indices to assess our comparative ESG performance against that of our local and international peers. At present, we participate in the following indices:
- CDP Climate
- CDP Water
- Dow Jones Sustainability Index / SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment
We are also included in the following local and international indices by virtue of our approach to ESG disclosed through our sustainability reporting:
- JSE Sustainability Index
- FTSE4Good Emerging Markets Index
The results of our participation in these indices, together with an explanation of our year-on-year performance in this regard, is reported to the social, ethics and transformation committee on an annual basis once the results are made available to us.
From the 2022 financial year onwards, we will review the suitability of the sustainability-related indices that we participate every two years. In this review, we will consider:
- the needs of South African investors who rely on the results of those indices to assess our ESG performance
- the cost of participating in those indices
- the usefulness of the indices when comparatively benchmarking our ESG performance against that of our local and international peers.
To the extent that a South African participatory sustainability index is developed, we will consider participating in it, considering the factors set out above.
Responsible investment approach
We recognise that ESG must be considered at each stage of the life cycle of our properties. We have therefore adopted a group-wide approach to responsible investment, which ensures that each asset management decision, from development or acquisition through to disposal or demolition, takes ESG factors into account. A responsible investment approach has been developed and we endeavour to align ourselves to the UN PRI guidelines for investment as they relate to real estate. Steps are being taken to extend these ESG principles to our offshore investments to further embed sustainability throughout our value chain.
Affordable and Clean Energy - Green and renewable energy is particularly important to us as the bulk of our properties are in C40 cities.
We aware of the different forms of sustainability-linked funding, including (but not limited to) green bonds, social bonds, SDG bonds, ESG bonds as well as sustainability-linked loans. Any decisions to obtain sustainability-linked funding are made by the executive committee with input from the head of ESG and the head of corporate finance and a business case and associated compliance requirements are then tabled before the appropriate committees for approval.
The following sections set out our priorities across environmental, social and governance respectively. We are aware that these are often interlinked and therefore no area of ESG is more important than another.
Climate Action - The climate resilience of a building may have an impact on the valuation of that building, particularly when C40 regulations are passed by the participating municipalities.
Clean Water and Sanitation - We recognise that water scarcity in South Africa is a pressing issue
We are cognisant of the fact that climate change is a ‘grey rhino’ risk event that we must act upon and manage as soon as possible, to ensure the continued relevance and resilience of our assets and operations.
As a result, we commit to design buildings with long-term climate-related risks in mind and continue to explore opportunities to improve climate resilience throughout our portfolio. Guided by TCFD, we will take steps to understand how and where our business and assets are vulnerable.
We also recognise that our buildings are centred in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Ekurhuleni, which are all C40 cities. Therefore, we will continue to pursue carbon reduction measures to effectively reach the C40 net zero targets when these are set by the relevant municipalities. C40 requirements will be considered when acquiring or disposing of an existing building and designing a new building or refurbishing an existing building from the 2022 financial year onwards.
Climate scenario planning will be conducted and incorporated into risk and asset management strategy. Asset and property managers will have guidance on how to practically incorporate scenario planning into their decision-making.
An environmental management system will be implemented whereby physical climate risks are effectively measured and managed.
Although scope 3 (indirect) emissions are not part of our carbon footprint, tenant impacts on sustainability must be influenced. Tenant awareness campaign around climate risk management will be routinely carried out for new and existing tenants.
Redefine recognises that water scarcity in South Africa is a pressing issue. We monitor and manage our water consumption in accordance with our commitment to climate action. We will adopt ambitious water reuse initiatives, e.g., net zero water measures, and positively impact water usage and management, in the context of ailing sanitation and water infrastructure in major South African cities.
Carbon emissions reduction targets
To achieve the climate action goal, Redefine will need to adopt carbon emission reduction targets that are ambitious enough to achieve the requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Therefore, by the 2023 financial year Redefine will set science-based targets that will be aimed at achieving these reduction targets across our portfolio.
This target-setting process will be accompanied by scenario planning for the achievement of the targets, as well as the estimated cost of implementing these targets.
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Innovative technology is crucial to reduce operating costs and make our offerings more attractive to tenants
The majority of our buildings, over which we have operational control, are in a water-stressed country, and therefore it is essential that we are mindful of how we manage water, particularly in water-stressed regions.
A policy is currently being developed which contains our group-wide commitment to water conservation and the strategy to support this, considering:
- the needs of our properties that are in water-stressed areas and 100-year flood zones
- the affordability of water savings technologies
- the water-use patterns of assets in each of our core portfolios.
Water and energy savings technologies are implemented throughout our portfolio, and we will work with municipalities (directly and through industry lobby groups) to reduce the regulatory impediments to adopting green technologies at scale.
Responsible Consumption and Production - Responsible consumption within the value chain, including responsible recycling.
Our waste footprint notably includes waste generated during the construction or refurbishment of our properties, through our day-to-day operations, and at the end of the life cycle of our properties.
It is essential that we manage the waste generated on our properties in a responsible manner, and influence tenant behaviour in this regard to promote responsible consumption and production within their operations. Similarly, we must influence our suppliers to responsibly manage how they approach waste and consumption, including pollution and the use of hazardous materials.
We have taken steps to implement circular business models that allow for the long life of our buildings. We also measure the tonnes of recycled waste.
We will be focusing on programmes to encourage responsible consumption, which will include carbon reduction programmes within the value chain.
Partnering for the Goals - Public and private sector partnerships are essential to realising the goals, particularly around job creation, protection of natural resources and good governanceWe have taken significant steps to obtain Green Star certifications for the buildings in our commercial property portfolio, and we will continue to pursue green certifications for our commercial buildings. However, we are aware that there are other types of certifications in the local and international market. Furthermore, it is possible to obtain certifications for certain aspects of a building, rather than its overall design and operation. In so doing, we will consider the potential to obtain other certifications for our buildings across our portfolio, including (but not limited to):
- Eco Districts
- Sustainable Precincts
- Green Star ratings for Retail and Industrial buildings
- Living building challenge
- Net zero carbon / water / waste
- ENERGY Star
We are also aware that it is possible to obtain a social or community certification for a building, including (but not limited to) the BREEAM communities certification standard and are exploring these options.
The suitability of a particular standard will include the scope of the certification, the cost of obtaining or maintaining the standard, the potential positive impact on our key stakeholders that rely on those buildings, and investor sentiment.
We will drive ESG awareness and impact through local industry bodies (e.g., SAPOA, SA REIT) and partner with municipalities where our investments are located to drive ESG.
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - As South Africa has extreme wealth and wage inequality, we need to be mindful of how our investment decisions can impact this (positively or negatively)
We are committed to observing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although this commitment is not formal. In addition to guaranteeing rights to freedom of association and against forced or compulsory labour, our efforts to improve the availability of basic resources and job creation through our supply chain will also contribute to the realisation of human rights. A formal human rights policy will be introduced in the 2021 financial year.
We have identified that we need to conduct human rights / community impact assessments when acquiring or disposing of assets and these will become part and parcel of our due diligence framework.
Decent Work and Economic Growth - Wage inequality is one of the most visible drivers of societal inequality, and contributes towards the ‘working poor’ phenomenon which affects companies in all sectors
Gender Equality - The need for gender equality in leadership and pay needs to be urgently addressed in the South African corporate sector
Reduced Inequalities - We are addressing inequality within our pay structures to avoid reputational harm and a disengaged workforce
Quality Education - Youth unemployment is an issue in South Africa and a viable talent pool needs to be nurtured within the economy, particularly in the real estate sector
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Anti-bribery and corruption must be incorporated into employee training and day-to-day operations and processes
We place people at the heart of everything we do, and our human capital strategy will continue to reflect our commitment in this regard. Furthermore, we observe the principles of the International Labour Organisation (although this commitment is not formal) and we embed the principles of decent work when managing our employees.
Human capital management, and the emphasis on skills development and our role in society as an enabler business, is a critical part of our future as a responsible corporate citizenship. As part of our SDG priorities, we will continue to invest in gender equality and skills development, provide innovative career pathing opportunities, and promote the continued well-being of our employees in times of uncertainty, such as (but not limited to) COVID-19.
Redefine measures pay inequality in terms of equal pay for work of equal value; more gender equality will be introduced at C-suite level. Furthermore, we track the representation of women in our workforce and are pleased that 60% of the board is made up of women.
Gender equality will be promoted in succession management; new ways of accommodating caregiver employees will be introduced; and gender-based pay disparities between employees doing work of equal value will be eliminated.
Internal Gini coefficient is gradually reduced through wealth creation initiatives for junior employees.
Internship opportunities are offered, including a mentorship programme. Furthermore, bursaries are offered to employees for suitable courses.
Anti-bribery and corruption protocols will include employee training and full implementation whenever employees interact with third parties.
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) that can access credit facilities can grow and benefit their own value chains
Decent Work and Economic Growth - Small suppliers, particularly those run by vulnerable groups, must be supported through enterprise supplier development (ESD) programmes
Reduced Inequalities and
Partnering for the Goals. Empowering small suppliers to access funding, thus assisting in growth and job creation in our value chain
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Anti-bribery and corruption must be incorporated into our supply chain management
Some of our impacts as an enabler business, such as on job creation and empowerment, are created through the suppliers that we choose to do business with. Our brokers are essential to our core business of letting space. Our on-site contractors are often the de facto face of Redefine as they interact with the public and are important to the overall tenant experience.
We have implemented a supplier code of conduct that sets out the standards of ethical and sustainable conduct and business practices expected of our suppliers. This code of conduct will be accompanied by appropriate monitoring mechanisms to hold suppliers accountable against the standards set out in the conduct.
We will partner with industry bodies, government and financial institutions to increase accessibility of credit for qualifying and sustainable SMMEs.
We will enable and encourage innovation through supplier selection criteria that prioritise innovative service providers.
Qualifying suppliers are supported through ESD programmes. Measurable long-term job creation will be promoted through ESD programmes, which will then empower ESD beneficiaries to become tenants.
Vendor financing has been provided in certain instances.
We have an anti-bribery and corruption policy in place. Anti-bribery and corruption protocols will be implemented in supplier selection and through due diligences that cover the supply chain.
Good Health and Well-being. The health, safety and well-being of our tenants is essential and must be incorporated into the design and maintenance of our buildings.
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Bribery and corruption is an issue in South African society and has a significant impact on society’s trust in corporate south Africa. Promoting strong governance and ethics within our operations increases trust from our stakeholders and society
It is critical that we measure the satisfaction of our tenants, and to this end we have implemented a tenant satisfaction programme and an action plan to address their feedback and concerns.
Many of the impacts identified through the SDGs that we have prioritised will be managed by influencing the sustainability impacts of our tenants, as their consumption patterns will impact their customers as well as the communities surrounding our buildings. This can be done through awareness campaigns that demonstrate to tenants how they can operate in our properties responsibly and sustainably; as well as leasing provisions such as (but not limited to) green leases.
To the extent that sustainability-linked provisions are included in leases with tenants who opt to do so, these will be supported by clear information sharing guidelines that allow us to track and measure our performance as well as those of the tenants. Our approach in this regard will be set out in a separate policy document in the 2022 financial year.
Tenant health and well-being is considered when designing our buildings; COVID-19 regulations have been applied. Innovative ways of further promoting tenant health and well-being will be implemented, adding to our value proposition to current and prospective tenants.
Anti-bribery and corruption protocols will be included in tenant selection. Tenants will be provided with access to training on ethics, and anti-bribery and corruption.
While we promote governance, we do not conduct governance risk assessments at an operational level. Internal governance will be streamlined, and related risks will be managed. Thus demonstrating to tenants that the Redefine is a responsible supplier.
Gender Equality - We need to empower women and other vulnerable groups through our CSI initiatives
Sustainable Cities and Communities - We need a better understanding of how our buildings will impact the community in future (positively or negatively)
It is imperative that we measure our impact on our communities, at each stage of the investment and asset management process as part of our overall approach to responsible investment. Furthermore, our approach to corporate social investment will determine the extent to which we are able to continue to measure and create value for the communities that surround our buildings.
Managing community impacts, particularly on women and vulnerable communities, will be integrated into our end-to-end responsible investment approach.
By partnering with social impact organisations, we will better understand the changing needs of our communities and how this can drive our approach to social investment (including, amongst others, investment in infrastructure).
Our board adheres to the King IV principles which address the concept of a stakeholder-inclusive approach to governance that balances the needs, interests and expectations of material stakeholders in the best interests of the Redefine over time. Sound stakeholder engagement is critical to the achievement of the primary and secondary UN SDGs (and drives the achievement of SDG 17. Partnerships for the Goals), particularly for those SDGs that require us to influence behaviour in our value chain.
We will engage with investors regarding ESG on an annual basis, to explain our approach to ESG and any forward-looking developments in this regard.
Our approach to B-BBEE, as well as the governance framework supporting this, encompass our holistic approach to transformation. Our efforts to pursue transformation are included in the SDGs as they relate to our key stakeholders, particularly in
o promoting the upliftment of people from marginalised or vulnerable groups
o facilitating the empowerment of SMMEs, particularly those run and owned by women and marginalised groups
o significantly increasing gender and racial representation in Redefine and real estate sector.
Health and safety
Good Health and well-being
Our suppliers need to be influenced to promote health and wellness for their employees, particularly at the most junior levels.
o Our employees are more productive if their health and well-being, including employee benefits, is protected.
o We need to prioritise the physical and mental health of our employees during COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.
o Our buildings have an impact on communities through community upliftment initiatives. Redefine must also ensure their safety from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
We prioritise the health and safety of our employees, as well as the health and safety of our tenants (which is incorporated in the design of our buildings), communities that support our buildings, and suppliers that work on-site.
A supplier code of conduct will be enforced through supplier self-assessments, confirming that they have measures in place to promote the well-being of their employees.
Action will be taken to identify the potential impacts of pandemics in the future, and the protracted fall-out, on employees. This will extend beyond the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will take steps to prepare them accordingly.
Community education initiatives around health and well-being will be expanded to include all aspects of health, safety and well-being, particularly for vulnerable communities
Anti-bribery and corruption
In accordance with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, we continually take steps to enhance our anti-bribery and corruption mechanisms, through monitoring mechanisms and training. It is also essential for us to ensure that anti-bribery and corruption mechanisms are included in our interactions with our business partners and tenants. This is supported by other enabling policies such as our independent whistleblower hotline.
The board, in its capacity as the custodian of governance, leads Redefine, ethically and effectively, towards the goal of improving the trust and confidence of stakeholders and reducing the cost of capitals.
The board’s governing structures, processes and actions, coupled with the mindful realisation of desired governance outcomes, enable and support our value creation process in the short, medium and long term. The importance of good governance is essential for the achievement of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
We are committed to following best practice corporate governance and ensuring that these principles are reflected throughout our internal governance structures; we monitor our policy frameworks and ensure that they clearly promote good governance. Furthermore, we pursue strong ethical conduct to demonstrate our ethical leadership in the real estate sector. This is conducted through ethics surveys, risk assessments and ongoing plans to further promote ethical conduct throughout the organisation on a continuous basis.
Good governance will also include ensuring the continued compliance with the enterprise risk management framework; combined assurance framework; and legal compliance framework.
Business continuity management
Our business continuity management programme supports the strategic objectives and governance requirements of our organisation, proactively building the capability to continue business operations in the event of disruption and enhancing resilience. This not only means emphasising building business continuity management capability which support our core value streams, but a programme which supports alignment to King IV and the target value driven model.
The business continuity management strategy includes an execution roadmap which assists us to achieve our desired state of preparedness to respond to and recover from material disruptive events.For more information on our Governance overview
Risk managementWe conduct a risk and opportunity analysis of all elements of ESG on an annual basis, recording the potential financial impacts of risks and opportunities thus identified; as well as tracking any changes to those risks. Best practice principles as they relate to the identification of risks and opportunities are applied to this analysis. Where certain ESG-related risks are already included in the enterprise risk management framework, these are incorporated accordingly. The result of the analysis is incorporated into the enterprise risk management framework.
For more information, please read our 2021 ESG report