Floods cause billions of dollars of damage each year, and flood risks are expected to increase due to socio-economic development, subsidence, and climate change. Implementing additional flood risk management measures can limit losses, protecting people and livelihoods. Whilst several models have been developed to assess global-scale river-flood risk, methods for evaluating flood risk management investments globally are lacking. Here, we present a framework for assessing costs and benefits of structural flood protection measures in urban areas around the world. We demonstrate its use under different assumptions of current and future climate change and socio-economic development. Under these assumptions, investments in dykes may be economically attractive for reducing risk in large parts of the world, but not everywhere. In some regions, economically efficient investments could reduce future flood risk below today's levels, in spite of climate change and economic growth. We also demonstrate the sensitivity of the results to different assumptions and parameters. The framework can be used to identify regions where river-flood protection investments should be prioritized, or where other risk-reducing strategies should be emphasized.