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Invest to avoid disaster, not react to it: Author

Companies, governments and even individuals need to stop "looking in the rearview mirror" at the latest black swan event, and instead prepare and invest in solutions for anything that could go wrong, said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

"We need to move to a model that is ... take stock, prepare, plan, access your vulnerabilities, [and] make that investment early," Rodin said Tuesday on CNBC. "Businesses or cities or people who make those investments actually yield a dividend." As head of the philanthropic organization since 2005, she's worked to shape innovations that strengthen resilience.

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Rodin is the author of the new book "The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong." She said her research showed that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year in the U.S. alone on "disaster recovery and response."

As a director on the boards of both Comcast, CNBC's parent company, and Citigroup, she's also had a bird's-eye view of the problem. "If you take the premise that crisis is the new normal ... than we can't keep to the old paradigm."

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In a "Squawk Box" interview about her book, Rodin told the story of Wal-Mart's approach to resiliency planning and investing. "They're plan is by 2020 that they will increase 600 percent the amount of onsite energy, renewable energy ... because they don't know what the next natural disaster or the next kind of terrorist shock will be."

"It's not about the last thing," she stressed. "It's about preparing for anything. That's resilience."

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