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Singapore – The gateway to Sustainable Real Estate Investment in Asia

In the week before last, I was in the iconic European city of Amsterdam. Cobbled streets of merchants’ homes and old warehouses built around the old port and canals. A place where you can’t walk along the street on your mobile phone or risk getting run down by a bicycle or two. In October, apples were in season for the famous appeltaart, delicious with whipped cream.

What a contrast to the next week – in Singapore for the Fintech Festival. A city of extraordinary architecture with many ships anchored offshore from this modern port. Much of my week was spent in taxis and in lifts in Singapore, rather than on foot or on a bike in the Netherlands. 

This is a symbolic Asian city where many people walk around with hooked-over heads lit up by the glow of their phones. At our hotel, the majority of guests live-streamed the breakfast buffet; talking to their phones rather than their friends around the table. 

Citrus fruits were in season in the hot humidity of this gateway city. The very affordable and UNESCO protected hawker food markets were buzzing with delicious, freshly cooked fish and veg. Both cities share a love of deep-fried snacks and both have a warm, respectful openness. 

Our business there was with the many global investment managers and local REITs which use Singapore as a gateway for investments in the rest of Asia. With the city’s close relations with other major financial centres, like London and Tokyo, it is an obvious choice.

The city is home to sustainable real estate leaders, like CapitaLand. With iconic assets, including CapitaSpring and the Jewel, the company has become a touchstone for other real estate companies. Backed by a Sovereign Wealth Fund they are encouraged to support, and lead, the government’s drive towards sustainability and the management of climate risk.

We were part of a Great Britain trade mission, warmly hosted by the British High Commissioner, Kara Owen, and her team. The Singapore Fintech Festival provided us with a focus on “green” fintech as the city looks to establish itself as a centre of green finance.

Having spoken with our partners, MSCI and Paia, and many clients, including another global leader Hines, it was clear that the sustainability and climate agenda has moved on significantly over the last year. Looking to challenge Europe’s leadership and arguably more advanced than the USA. We were in listening mode last week and it was an inspiring community to visit.

Real estate investment in Singapore and the nearby major Asian markets of India, Japan, HK and Korea are on the front line of climate change. Whilst also grappling with air pollution, the destruction of natural biodiversity and a range of social and governance issues. Against this background, you could expect that these markets could lead the way with new innovations in the near future. That could be why new green products, including credit, is on the rise.

European LPs, including the Dutch pension funds, are one driver of this market, alongside new Government rules on disclosure. We’ll be watching how the Asian LPs pick up this agenda, particularly the Japanese pension funds and Australian Supers.

Like every other market, ESG data quality is a problem. The Government’s Project Greenpoint is attempting to solve this problem and backing an ESG data utility. Smart thinking to ensure that both risks and opportunities can be made transparent.

What an exciting market to explore as EVORA thinks about how and where we grow following our recent investment round. Thank you Singapore for being such a great host.

Does gardening improve our wellbeing? Indeed it does!

We’ve long known that nature is good for us. Aside from the now-clear evidence of the way in which nature maintains the equilibrium of our planet, for us as individuals being in green spaces outdoors enhances physical wellbeing, and – it turns out – mental wellbeing.

The benefits of gardening, or simply being in the garden, include, according to a Kings Fund report, improved social skills, as well as reduced susceptibility to anxiety and depression. This positive impact on mental and other health has been extensively studied. One example comes from Exeter Medical school, where they took a sample of 1,000 urban dwellers and tracked their health over an 18-year period. The findings revealed that those with green space near them had fewer, or reduced,  incidences of mental distress.

Let’s unpack this. For a start being in gardens or nature is likely to bring with it some form of physical movement. Even if we’re not talking about vigorous exercise, it’s likely that being outdoors will involve moving and walking around, and may well be bending or stretching as we get our hands into the soil and tend the greenery. A Harvard study found that 30 minutes of gardening among other household tasks is akin to 30 mins of yoga or badminton!

Then there is the fresh air. Although our air quality may leave something to be desired in the great outdoors of our cities, it is at least fresher than the air that circulates in our homes when we’re stuck indoors, and a lungful of fresh air can go a long way in giving us some pep.

Our gardens and open spaces are also, if nothing else, enlivening to the senses as our eyes feast on the colours, our noses on the scents, our minds on the shapes of trees and flowers and our ears on the… well often just the silence! All of which give us a welcome reprieve from the whirring of computers, traffic, air conditioning and our own brains.

Talking of which (brains), it seems that our brains and nervous systems are able to rest and recharge through nature (and we all need more of that). The Science Team at the Royal Horticultural Society has spent the last five years collating current scientific evidence on gardening and health, and undertaking new scientific research into how our sensory responses and emotions are impacted by gardens and plants. So it is only a matter of time before we understand more behind the science of why and how our nervous systems are positively impacted by nature.

What we have found out so far is that the soil itself is actually good for us. Numerous studies (here’s one) by neuroscientists over the past couple of decades have traced the impact of friendly bacteria in soil on our nervous system and found that the friendly bacteria in soil activates our brain cells to produce serotonin. In other words, it has a similar impact on the brain as anti-depressants. 

So whilst we have all spent the past 2 years furiously washing our hands, it may now be time to get them into the dirt of the soil and boost those good chemicals in our brain.

To celebrate the National Gardening Week (27th April – 5th May), EVORA’s Health & Wellness team is having a Plant Power Month with various activities for Evorians to get their hands dirty!

EVORA Global strengthens its global presence with new operations in Singapore

EVORA Global is delighted to announce their collaboration with Paia Consulting, a specialist Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultancy in Singapore offering a wide range of sustainability services targeting the real estate and property investment market in Asia Pacific.

This collaboration is a result of EVORA and Paia’s complementarity to provide high-value ESG consultancy services such as GRESB Real Estate assessments, net zero and climate analysis, sustainability reporting and disclosures to real estate and property investment clients in Asia. 

The strategic collaboration with Paia Consulting further strengthens EVORA’s global growth plans whilst increasing the evolution and adoption of ESG principles in real estate investment in the Asia Pacific region.

Sonny Masero, EVORA Chief Strategy Officer said of the collaboration:

“EVORA Global is now serving clients in every region – investors’ concerns about ESG are becoming the norm in major markets. When seeking a partner in APAC we wanted to find one that shared our vision and values. We have found that in Paia and the leadership provided by Carrie and Corrado. They see the potential to use SIERA to enable their consultancy business to grow bigger and more efficiently, reducing the time spent by their consulting team on data collection and data quality checks. Together, our consulting businesses in partnership, will be adding value to our clients by working with the best talent and intelligence in South-East Asia and in Europe.”

Carrie Johnson, Paia Founding Director:

“This collaboration with EVORA enables Paia to bring additional value to our clients. The enriches our capability to deploy technology, access insights and experience from Europe, UK and USA for our leading real estate companies and REITs to capitalize on their sustainability efforts and initiatives. We look forward to working with Sonny and the EVORA team, bringing software solutions to our clients, and further strengthening our GRESB offerings in Asia Pacific.” 

To find out how EVORA and Paia’s partnership can help you to create more sustainable buildings and communities, please contact us today.