Nature-based factors and challenges have a real impact on our economies, lives and investments. To kick off Season 3 of the NOW podcast, Brown Advisory's Karina Funk sits down with Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, for a special Climate Week episode. They discuss the critical need to invest in biodiversity; in the irrecoverable carbon in mangroves, tropical forests and peat lands; and in the indigenous communities that depend on these natural ecosystems to protect commodities, supply chains, public health and the planet.

Later in the podcast, Karina talks with Mike Hankin, Brown Advisory's CEO, about how sustainability can be a powerful tool to create stronger businesses and drive long-term growth.

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Episode Introduction

Karina Funk: In the past decade, conservation as an industry seems to have bloomed, and sustainable investing which is my world has certainly caught on. There remain very different approaches to both, with varying degrees of impact and investment return, and all of that may mean nothing if we are still headed for runaway global warming.

In investing, there’s a lot of momentum behind incorporating environmental, social, and governance information into security analysis. We’ve tried to frame it as best we could in terms of risks and opportunities, created acronyms like ESG, examined how these issues might flow through business models and financial statements, and how they influence how we talk about the consumer sector or oil and gas or tech companies or green bonds.

But as investors, we don’t talk about conservation or nature. Tropical and old-growth forests. Biodiversity. Mangroves. Peatlands. Freshwater ecosystems. And yet all of this is related to what we observe as consumers and as investors: things like commodity price volatility, supply chain shortages, weather disasters, a racial reckoning, a pandemic.

My name is Karina Funk, I’m the Chair of Sustainable Investing at Brown Advisory and the co-portfolio manager of our Large-Cap Sustainable Growth Strategy. For this Climate Week episode of Navigating Our World, I am thrilled to welcome Dr M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International – and to see if we can bridge this gap between investors and conservation.

In addition to leading one of the largest global conservation organizations, Sanjayan believes in bringing his message about climate action to as wide an audience as possible – hosting numerous documentaries for PBS, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery and Showtime, in addition to his many appearances on major news outlets. And you know I rattle these off not just as accomplishments but in hopes that some of our listeners might seek these out on major streaming platforms – the Years of Living Dangerously documentary series that opens with Harrison Ford in a fighter jet, or Sanjayan’s recent Climate Lab series a partnership with Vox and the University of California. These shows are eye-opening and riveting.

Sanjayan was raised in Southeast Asia and West Africa, which, as you’ll hear, informs his worldview and his passion for nature-based climate solutions and the people whose future livelihoods depend on them.

Stay tuned after my conversation with Sanjayan. I’m going to speak with Mike Hankin, Brown Advisory’s CEO, to get his thoughts as a business leader on climate change and how companies can move the needle toward effective, long-term solutions.

Read the Full Transcript


M. Sanjayan, Ph.D.

M. Sanjayan, Ph.D.

CEO, Conservation International

M. Sanjayan is a global conservation scientist whose work spans from genetics to wildlife migration to nature’s impacts on human well-being. He has served as Conservation International’s chief executive officer since 2017. Sanjayan joined Conservation International in 2014, overseeing its successful $1.1 billion capital campaign and its critically acclaimed brand campaign, “Nature Is Speaking,” along with its push into virtual-reality filmmaking. Sanjayan holds a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and a doctorate from the University of California-Santa Cruz, and his peer-reviewed scientific work has been published in journals including Science, Nature and Conservation Biology. He is a visiting researcher at UCLA and a distinguished professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is also a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Raised in Southeast Asia and West Africa, Sanjayan’s unique background has informed his work and he has attracted widespread media coverage, from The New York Times, Outside Magazine and CNN International. His media appearances include NBC’s “Today Show,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “CBS This Morning,” and “CBS Evening News,” and he has hosted more than a dozen documentaries from PBS, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery and Showtime. Most recently, he hosted the University of California and Vox Media’s Climate Lab series, which has garnered over 20 million views. Sanjayan lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter. When able, he spends time in Montana fly-fishing, or birding and diving around the world.



Karina Funk, CFA

Karina Funk, CFA

Portfolio Manager; Chair of Sustainable Investing, Brown Advisory

Karina is a partner and co-portfolio manager of the Brown Advisory Large-Cap Sustainable Growth strategy (LCSG) and chair of sustainable investing. Karina joined Brown Advisory in 2009 and has extensive investment experience spanning early-stage ventures to debt and public equities. Karina is a respected leader in the investment community having been profiled in many leading financial publications, including Barron’s inaugural list of 100 Most Influential Women in Finance. She and co-portfolio manager David Powell have developed a distinctive fundamental research methodology focused on finding companies at the intersection of positive fundamental and sustainable business drivers. Karina was previously an equity research analyst for Winslow Management Co, a principal at Charles River Ventures, and an investment manager at the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust.


Investment Commentary

Michael Hankin

Michael Hankin

President and CEO, Brown Advisory

Mike is a partner, a member of the Executive Team and serves as president and chief executive officer. He is a director of both Brown Advisory Incorporated and Brown Investment Advisory & Trust Company. As chair of the Baltimore Healthy Harbor Project and executive committee member of the Baltimore Waterfront Partnership and Management Authority, he has challenged the city to achieve a goal of making Baltimore’s Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020. He is a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University, trustee and vice chair of Johns Hopkins Medicine and chair of the board of managers of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. He also serves as chair of Land Preservation Trust, is a trustee of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, and is a director for the National Steeplechase Association and Associated Black Charities. Mike also serves on the board of directors of Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (NYSE: SWK) and on the boards of directors of three private companies, Tate Engineering Services, Inc., The Wills Group, Inc. and 1251 Capital Group, Inc. Mike earned a B.A. and M.A. from Emory University in 1979 where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and he received a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law in 1982.


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The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Brown Advisory. These views are not intended to be and should not be relied upon as investment advice and are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. The information provided in this podcast is not intended to be and should not be considered a recommendation or suggestion to engage in or refrain from a particular course of action or to make or hold a particular investment or pursue a particular investment strategy, including whether or not to buy, sell, or hold any of the securities mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such securities have been or will be profitable. There is a risk that some or all of the capital invested in any such securities may be lost. This piece is intended solely for our clients and prospective clients, is for informational purposes only, and is not individually tailored for or directed to any particular client or prospective client.

ESG considerations are one of multiple informational inputs into the investment process, alongside data on traditional financial factors, and so are not the sole driver of decision-making. ESG analysis may not be performed for every holding in every strategy. ESG considerations that are material will vary by investment style, sector/industry, market trends and client objectives. Certain strategies seek to identify issuers that they believe may have desirable ESG outcomes, but investors may differ in their views of what constitutes positive or negative ESG outcomes. As a result, certain strategies may invest in issuers that do not reflect the beliefs and values of any particular investor. Certain strategies may also invest in companies that would otherwise be screened out of other ESG oriented portfolios. Security selection will be impacted by the combined focus on ESG assessments and forecasts of return and risk.