U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday announced he would visit Sendai for the Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which begins late next week. The event is the first in a series of gatherings around the globe on development goals and sustainability.

"The message is clear: Sustainability starts in Sendai," Ban told a packed audience at the United Nations, where a global report on disaster risk reduction was also launched.

Ban was referring to a set of meetings that follow Sendai. They include an Addis Ababa conference on financing for development in July and the Paris climate change meeting in December, where negotiators are hoping to strike a universal agreement.