Numerous state parties around the world have adopted targets to protect marine biodiversity: by 2010 to halt the decline of biodiversity, and use the ecosystem approach in marine management; by 2012 to establish representative networks of marine protected areas; and by 2015 to restore depleted fish stocks to maximum sustainable yields. In addition, non-governmental organizations are contributing to the protection of coastal and marine biodiversity through international, national and local grassroots initiatives.

However, these initiatives need to be better integrated if they are to have lasting positive effects on the conservation of our oceans, seas, and coasts. IUCN, as the world´s oldest and largest conservation network, is aware of the value that lies in creating linkages between local and global conservation efforts, while forging new partnerships amongst its members and partners. In October 2008, marine issues will play a prominent role within the IUCN World Conservation Congress with issues such as governance of the high seas, marine protected areas, climate change and island biodiversity, and fisheries receiving particular attention.

In support of these efforts, Sailing to Barcelona will offer a neutral platform for IUCN Members and partners to advance the protection of coastal and marine biodiversity, while raising awareness within the wider public.