A briefing is held at the Warrior Operations Center to share information during Fort Polk’s response to Hurricane Barry on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Patricia Dubiel/Fort Polk Public Affairs Office)

FEMA National Mitigation Investment Strategy Lays Out Resilience Goals

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to better bring together people from the neighborhood level to federal emergency coordinators through wise investments to plan for and be ready to respond to any number of threats.

The new National Mitigation Investment Strategy aims to spur whole-of-community involvement both pre- and post-disaster anchored on the plan’s three goals: show how mitigation investments reduce risk, coordinate mitigation investments to reduce risk, and make mitigation investment standard practice.

“Investing in mitigation is a top priority for us and our partners,” said Deputy Administrator for Resilience Daniel Kaniewski. “This Investment Strategy will help align our collective efforts to continue building resilience nationwide.”

On the first goal, “the whole community will understand how effective mitigation investments can protect people, homes, neighborhoods, cultural and historic resources, ecosystems, and lifelines (for example, communications, energy, transportation, and water)” while the federal government and partners “will create a shared vocabulary and common measures to communicate information about risk and find opportunities to educate, hire, train, and develop a base of qualified mitigation professionals.”

The second goal brings the community together to “coordinate mitigation investments through shared risk information, reinforced strategies for risk reduction, and easier access to existing funding,” as “such coordination will help the whole community justify mitigation investments and choose the most cost-effective and reasonable actions.”

And with the third goal, “the whole community will factor mitigation into investment decisions, especially for buildings and infrastructure” as the government and partners “will use and expand financial products and approaches for mitigation investment—including funding, incentives, and financial risk transfer opportunities” and “make mitigation standard professional practice critical to safeguarding lifelines, services, and national safety and security.”

A mitigation strategy for the nation is needed because it “keep hazards from turning into disasters” and saves lives, property and resources while building resilience.

“Mitigation investments include direct investments made to reduce risks posed by hazards to buildings and infrastructure, for example, buying out structures located in a high-risk area, prone to natural hazards,” says the FEMA strategy. “Investments in mitigation improve safety, security, and economic prosperity.”

The National Institute of Building Science estimates a $6 savings for every dollar spent in federal mitigation grants.

The strategy also addresses the target audience for the “relevant” mitigation message — from nonfederal stakeholders to individuals — and scope, which focuses on natural disasters but the recommendations “do not exclude implementation efforts that will also mitigate risks posed by man-made hazards.” Recommendations include regional and community planning, nature-based solutions and beneficial use of natural assets, linking risk reduction and financial risk transfer, accounting for changing conditions with adaptable mitigation planning, and accounting for the special needs of vulnerable populations.

The document expressly “does not propose structural changes to existing federal programs, new federal requirements, or new federal legislation” though “implementation actions may address opportunities for improvement to existing programs” while keeping with FEMA’s broader goal of building a culture of resilience in the country.

“The whole community should use a shared vocabulary to communicate risks and show how mitigation reduces these risks,” says the strategy. “The Federal Government and nonfederal partners should use education, training, and professional development to increase mitigation investment and build a growing base of qualified mitigation-informed practitioners.”

Mitigation investment “in this unpredictable, ever-changing environment is challenged by limited resources and competing priorities for protecting lives, property, and communities,” the strategy adds, so the goal is to “more effectively and efficiently leverage and coordinate mitigation investments.” Success, it stresses, “requires maximum participation” from the entire community.

“Disasters are becoming more frequent and more dangerous. Investing in mitigation efforts before disaster saves lives and money,” said Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation David Maurstad. “This approach provides an innovative and collaborative way for the whole community to design and implement investment opportunities.”

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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