The treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) imposes substantial societal costs. Expenditure is highest for renal replacement therapy (RRT), especially in-hospital haemodialysis. Redirection towards less expensive forms of RRT (peritoneal dialysis, home haemodialysis) or kidney transplantation should decrease financial pressure. However, costs for CKD are not limited to RRT, but also include nonrenal health-care costs, costs not related to health care, and costs for patients with CKD who are not yet receiving RRT. Even if patients with CKD or ESRD could be given the least expensive therapies, costs would decrease only marginally. We therefore propose a consistent and sustainable approach focusing on prevention. Before a preventive strategy is favoured, however, authorities should carefully analyse the cost to benefit ratio of each strategy. Primary prevention of CKD is more important than secondary prevention, as many other related chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, and pulmonary disorders could also be prevented. Primary prevention largely consists of lifestyle changes that will reduce global societal costs and, more importantly, result in a healthy, active, and long-lived population. Nephrologists need to collaborate closely with other sectors and governments, to reach these aims.