Business case for DRR

Investing in disaster risk reduction (DRR) saves lives and money and future-proofs our development gains.

Investments in DRR not only curb disaster losses. They also yield economic, social and environmental benefits that enhance the well-being and resilience of countries and communities. The benefits of adaptation investments are often larger than the “avoided losses” that accrue when disaster does strike; this is what's called the triple dividend of resilience.

The resilience dividends across the SDGs

The triple dividend of building resilience (TDR) is an approach that considers avoided losses (first dividend), induced economic or development benefits (second dividend), and additional social and environmental benefits (third dividend) of disaster risk reduction actions. The second and third dividend accrue regardless of whether the actual risk materializes.

Point of attention

When using the below information, it is recommended, to cite the original source, and not use a statistic out of context.

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Resilient infrastructure


  • According to a 2009 study, $1 spent on preparedness is worth about $15 in terms of the future damage it mitigates.
  • A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in Georgia, finds that the USD 2.4 million of external support to the disaster risk management programme of Georgia Red Cross Society (GRCS), launched in 2010, has paid off extremely well. In the three surveyed areas, identified benefit-cost ratios range between 12.51 and 54.54.

Zambia and Tanzania reap the benefits from DRR investments

The examples of Tanzania and Zambia show that governments and other stakeholders in developing countries can spur economic growth by investing in DRR measures, thus increasing future earnings and creating a safe environment for investments into other economic activities.    

For instance, constructing only two additional dams leads to a 0.3% increase of GDP growth in Tanzania for the next 30 years (0.2% in Zambia) with results largely (97%) driven by the co-benefit production expansion effect. Similarly, the introduction of drought resistant crops and exposure management (i.e., land use restrictions) significantly boost economic growth perspectives.

Early warning and early action

Resilience dividends from DRR interventions

Resilience dividends table
Individual resilience dividends of five groups of disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions: Agricultural, Capacity building & Education, Forecasting & Early warning systems (EWS), Livelihood & Finance, and Water management & Hygiene. The bars show the percentage of DRR interventions that considered a specific resilience dividend out of the total number of interventions in the respective group (i.e., a value of 100% for a specific dividend indicates that all DRR interventions in that group considered that resilience dividend). The total number of DRR interventions surveyed was 40. Rözer et al. 2021

Employment and poverty reduction

Economic benefits

  • In the Pratomagno area in Italy, heather is harvested along fuelbreaks. The harvested heather is used to produce biological brooms. Consumers are willing to pay 17% more than the market price for these brooms to support fire prevention and protect wildlife habitat.
  • In Spain, herds of sheep, goats and cows get deployed to graze at the edge of the forest. This helps prevent wildfires from spreading to populated areas. Dairy products have a label certifying the fuel management activity to inform consumers about the herds’ role in fire risk management. Shepherds receive public subsidies for each hectare grazed within the initiative.
  • After the “Mompantero fire” in Italy, an initiative sought to reduce hazardous dead-wood accumulation. The wood is gathered and transformed into furniture. The product branding draws attention to the problem of extreme wildfires. The campaign increased sales of the products tenfold between 2018 and 2022.

Food security and agriculture

Illustration showing the co-benefits of disaster risk reduction: sustainability, synergies and cooperation, adaptive management, knowledge exchange and transfer
Key emerging components that characterize a fire-smart solution for wildfire risk prevention. Davide Ascoli et al. 2023. View full-size graphic.

Urban resilience

DRR investments in cities not only reduce disaster risk, they also improve the quality of life in urban settings.

  • An investment in smart surface technologies - such as solar roofs, green roofs, and porous and high albedo pavements - would result in net present values of US $1.8 billion in Washington, D.C., US $3.6 billion in Philadelphia and US $540 million El Paso over a 40-year period. These technologies can effectively address the severe cost of worse air quality, higher pollution and excess heat in urban low-income areas
  • Trees and vegetation can lower local land temperatures by up to 5-6℃ on days of extreme heat, reducing energy use for air conditioning. Urban forests also improve the quality of life in cities: they reduce air and noise pollution; help filter and regulate water and provide spaces for recreation and physical activity.

Nature-based solutions

Built infrastructure systems can be supported by nature-based solutions to reduce disaster risk, while strategically conserving or restoring ecosystems and supporting livelihoods.

  • Mangrove forests provide more than US $80 billion per year in avoided losses from coastal flooding—and protect 18 million people. They also contribute almost up to US $50 billion per year in non-market benefits (fisheries, forestry, and recreation). Combined, the benefits of mangrove preservation and restoration are up to 10 times the costs.
  • Robust coral reefs can reduce wave energy by 97% and wave height by up to 88%, a degree of protection equivalent or at times superior to many engineering structures.
  • A large-scale floodplain restoration programme would have many benefits in Europe, including reduced costs for dike reinforcement (€229 million), reduced flood risk (€1360 million), more flexibility in flood risk strategies in the long-term, and diversification of economy (e.g. tourism: €1152 million and fishery: €140 million) in the long term and job provision in the short term (supporting ~200.000 jobs).


Capitalizing on the secondary benefits of investments in urban flood protection

A recent study highlights how an investment in urban flood protection can have many additional or secondary benefits across several areas: society, the economy, the environment, and infrastructure systems.

Here are three action points to help incorporate these benefits into the decision-making process:

  1. Take advantage of research and technological advancements, to better understand and assess the full range of benefits that flood protection measures can provide.
  2. Adopt a more holistic approach to cost-benefit analysis, to better capture and quantify the secondary benefits of urban flood protection measures.
  3. Plan ahead by incorporating nature-based solutions into flood protection strategies and exploring alternative financing mechanisms, to maximize a project’s secondary benefits and incentivize private sector participation.

The cost of inaction

Research suggests that the cost of climate change is widely underestimated. If we do not invest in climate action and disaster risk reduction, the economic and human toll of disasters will rise dramatically.

The opportunity

COVID-19 has disrupted billions of lives and laid bare severe and systemic inequalities. As the world plunges in the deepest global recession since WWII, the United Nations is calling for a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive relief package - amounting to at least 10% of the global economy.

This unprecedented level of investment provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to build back better and steer the world onto a safer, healthier, more sustainable and inclusive path. We must ensure the resources poured into these investments are not lost to disasters, and that new infrastructure doesn’t translate into new risks.

The Sendai Framework sets out an agreed global blueprint for addressing risk. We must strengthen the capacity of people, communities, countries and systems to understand risk, withstand and bounce back from shocks, persist through stresses and transform through crises.

We must act with urgency and with greater ambition, proportional to the scale of the threat.

The Business Case for DRR: explore the collection

Also in PreventionWeb's Understanding Disaster Risk section

Components of Risk
Disaster risk is the consequence of the interaction between a hazard and the characteristics that make people and places vulnerable and exposed.
Risk drivers
Risk is influenced by the decisions we make. From climate change to poor urban planning, it is critical to understand and address risk drivers to curb disaster risk.
Key concepts
From deterministic and probabilistic risk to intensive and extensive risk, explore key concepts in disaster risk reduction.
A common understanding and usage of disaster risk reduction concepts and to assist the efforts of authorities, practitioners and the public.

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