Environmental, Social and Governance

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The success of Australia’s property industry, both now and in the future, depends upon its ability to operate in line with investor and community expectations on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Australian property companies’ sustainability credentials are recognised as globally leading, and the industry’s expertise and leading practice is well known around the world. 

Our members have a long-term stake in ensuring our capital and regional cities thrive and want to see decisive action on climate mitigation and adaptation to avoid the worst projected impacts of climate change. Within Australia’s business community, the property industry is a leader in the race to drastically reduce emissions with many of our members committed to ambitious goals to reach net zero emissions by 2030 or sooner.  Our industry is also leading the charge on megatrends like electrification and phasing out fossil fuel use in buildings, tackling embodied carbon and working towards nature positive strategies to improve biodiversity outcomes.

The Australian property industry has also shown global leadership on social sustainability initiatives, including gender diversity through the Property Champions of Change, the establishment of world first industry-wide online platforms to tackle modern slavery risks in supply chains and measure the collective social impact of the sector.

The property sector has a long history of collaboration to develop standards, improve industry practices and drive ESG performance, and this focus is becoming increasingly important for our members, communities, stakeholders and governments. As agents of change and positive impact, promoting the best ESG outcomes is core to our mission. 

As the industry’s voice, we are actively working with members and leadership forums like our National Sustainability Roundtable to enhance and promote diversity, encourage sustainability, strong governance and a positive social impact wherever and however we can. Our key strategic priorities across ESG are:

  1. Energy, emissions and climate
  2. Social sustainability, including human rights and Modern Slavery
  3. Resilience
  4. Circular economy
  5. Reporting frameworks and disclosures.

Buildings account for over 50% of electricity use in Australia and almost a quarter of its emissions. The built environment has the technology to decarbonise now, but we must do this at speed and scale to smooth the way for other hard-to-abate sectors and achieve Australia’s legislated emission reduction targets.

Governments must implement policies and programs that provide certainty to industry and drive the transition to zero-carbon-ready homes and buildings. Across eight policy themes, Every Building Counts sets out policy recommendations which provide a roadmap for governments towards a greener, healthier, more equitable built environment.

There are 49.6 million people living in conditions of modern slavery, according to the Global Slavery Index, of whom 59 per cent are estimated to be across the Asia Pacific region.

The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act, which came into force on 1 January 2019, requires companies with annual revenues of more than $100 million to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and to demonstrate the actions they are taking to address those risks.

Working with our Human Rights and Modern Slavery working group, we’ve developed useful resources for the property industry to assist their understanding and ability address modern slavery risks in property operations and supply chains. These include:

Our Supplier Platform, delivered in collaboration with leading property companies, Informed 365 and industry experts, asks property suppliers about the actions they are taking to assess and address human rights and modern slavery risks across shared operations and supply chains. In operation since 2018, the platform has engaged over 10,000 suppliers.

By making conscious choices about the suppliers they work with, property companies can build strong and sustainable businesses while delivering value to people and the planet. It’s a simple but powerful idea that doubles the difference we make in our communities.

One of the most important ways we can directly invest in our communities in the course of business is through the power of social procurement.

The Property Council’s National Social Sustainability Roundtable has developed a Guide to Social and Indigenous Procurement.

The Property Council and our members are determined to lead the conversation about delivering positive change through social sustainability in Australia’s property industry.

For this reason, the Property Council’s National Social Sustainability Roundtable spearheaded the establishment of a Collective Social Impact Framework as a way to assess and quantify these efforts across the sector.

The successful completion of the pilot phase of the Framework means that it is now ready for its substantial release. The Framework enables voluntary reporting on actions and initiatives underway by member organisations. Members can leverage their current efforts by reporting against the Framework which has been mapped against, and aligned to, existing industry standards.

Data gathered from the Framework will also deliver consolidated industry insights on the range of social initiatives across the Australian property sector for benchmarking and advocacy. The Property Council intends to make this information available in a de-identified way following the completion of the reporting phase.

Access resources and start reporting below.

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Our sustainability Committees are focused on driving the ESG advocacy agenda. As the industry’s voice, we are actively working with members through these Committees to enhance and promote diversity, encourage sustainability, strong governance and a positive social impact wherever and however we can. Our key strategic priorities across ESG are:

  1. Energy, emissions and climate
  2. Social sustainability, including human rights and Modern Slavery
  3. Resilience
  4. Circular economy
  5. Reporting frameworks and disclosures.

Committees meet every four to six weeks to discuss issues and projects relevant to their expertise and the focus of the Committee. Being selected as a member of a Property Council Committee gives you the opportunity to help shape the future and influence the organisation’s advocacy agenda. Members have the opportunity to contribute to important, focused industry discussions while building their professional networks and knowledge. 

As part of our 40-40-20 commitment to gender equity, all our Committees comprise a minimum of 40 per cent female representatives. Committee members are appointed for a two-year term, with the current Committees commencing their tenure in February 2023.

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