In 2010, Swire Properties began facing problems in its operating environment (both internal and external), which required the company to review its approach to sustainable development. It first reviewed its progress and the current situation, including regulations, market conditions, the labor market, stakeholders’ expectations, disclosure requirements, carbon trading, and natural resources. Based on its information and analysis, the company established its future direction and strategy for and beyond 2011 to ensure that it was positioned to manage the risks and opportunities of a carbon constrained economy and the changing demands of its stakeholders. It identified seven elements as critical to its sustainable development strategy.
On a sunny morning in the spring of 2009, Cary Chan, the Head of Technical Services and Sustainability at Swire Properties, sat with us in his new office in One Island East, and reflected on his experience of sustainable development at Swire Properties over the past decade. He explained how he had witnessed many changes in sustainable development practices in Swire Properties over the years, and recalled the impressive lengths Swire Properties’ top management had gone to in order to integrate sustainable development into the company’s corporate mission. Given the company’s rapid growth, especially seen in its entry into Mainland China, Mr. Chan proposed a plan to the executive board to improve sustainable development practices in Hong Kong and to introduce them in Mainland China.