Costantino Zavaionni, Chair of OCEAN at OCEAN Board meeting in Paris, France with the senior leadership team of OCEAN

Bari, Italy, 20.01.2024, 18:28 Uhr

Costantino Zavaionni, Chair of OCEAN,

Leadership in choppy waters – update on reform progress for ship supply!

OCEAN Chair Costantino Zavoianni reviews the Association's progress on OCEAN's reform.

Join Costantino Zavaionni, Chair of OCEAN, on a transformative journey through the European Ship Supply Industry's evolution. Discover OCEAN's bold vision for its 50th anniversary in 2026 as Zavaionni unveils progress on OCEAN's strategic priorities and initiatives, aiming to propel the organization to new heights of success. 


In November 2021, the OCEAN Board entrusted the Chairman with establishing a Working Group to consider the organisation's future. In light of OCEAN's 50th anniversary in 2026, the Working Groups are tasked with proposing updated priorities for the organisation. The Working Group was asked to prepare an action plan outlining the implementation of the priorities between now and 2026.

The Working Group was established towards the end of 2021 and began its activities in 2022. The first draft of this vision paper was presented in February 2022. It was discussed in the May and November OCEAN Board meetings. After receiving feedback from the OCEAN Board and determining the broad direction of travel, the group drafted an action plan.

At the beginning of 2023, the final proposals were made to the OCEAN Board. They centred around three essential reflections:

1. Where does OCEAN stand today? Reputation, influence, subjects

2. The World is changing – fast and fundamentally – how is OCEAN addressing these new challenges?

3. As OCEAN turns 50 in 2026, what is our Vision – where does OCEAN stand in three years?

From these three themes, we wanted to get to one key answer: Which priorities are we setting for OCEAN?

My goal for OCEAN is clear: When OCEAN reaches its 50th birthday in 2026, the organisation should be current, active, and responsive to its members' requirements, wants, and desires, representing and promoting the European Ship Supply Industry.

The question continues to be: How do we get there?

Throughout 2023, the OCEAN Board reflected on the reform of OCEAN, assessing carefully what was required, desired, and not feasible (given current resources, priorities, etc.). This process is not yet concluded. After one year as OCEAN chair, I plan to advance the debate and agree on tangible action that can be implemented.

As Board, we agreed on seven priorities:

1. To follow our "traditional "core subjects

2. To follow sustainability issues

3. To follow the diversification

4. To follow digitalisation

5. To provide service to the members

6. To support networking activities

7. To provide financial stability    

We have already worked hard on many fronts. Let me highlight some:

Customs, Excise & VAT

We continue to follow our "traditional "core subjects: customs, excise and VAT. We remain a valued and respected member of the European Commission's Trade Contact Group and were recently renewed as members of the Excise Contact Group. We also contributed to discussing the Union Customs Code reform with thought leadership. As regards the traditional core subjects, we are in good shape and continue to serve our members.


I am proud that we launched our sustainability working group last year and discussed many matters of EU relevance, such as CBAM or plastic pollution in OCEANs. We also continue to look at the EU's Green Deal and the efforts to reduce carbon in our EU supply chain. As regards this priority, we are advancing well. Anyone interested in joining the group may join us, too. Please get in touch with the OCEAN Secretariat at


Regarding diversification, we continue to secure a regional balance for OCEAN officers. As such, I am Italian, while Carl is from Sweden. The Chair of the CEVVT Working Group is from Portugal, and the Vice-Chair is German. We need to do more to encourage younger members of OCEAN to get involved. I am happy to see Axel Barat and Carl Forsman get involved in OCEAN, and we hope that more younger ship supply professionals will come forward. Of course, we seek more females to come forward as OCEAN Board members. This is, therefore, a plea for the OCEAN members to send more women to the Board.


Regarding digitalisation, we know that the EU Digital Strategy will influence all of us. We should, therefore, take a closer look at how digital tools and the facilitation of digitalisation of members can improve efficiency and ensure better connections with members. I am open to other ideas, like fora, etc and welcome further input. While this debate continues, one concrete measure we have already employed in digitalisation is our presence on social media. LinkedIn is the right platform for OCEAN to talk about what we do, and it allows ship supply companies to get to know and join us.

Providing Services and Networking Opportunities

There are great ideas for improving services and networking opportunities for members. However, I wonder if our esteemed international Association, ISSA, can support us here – they are already providing a high amount of high-value services to members – such as specific education for ship supply or "meet the buyer" events and conventions, which allow for significant networking opportunities. I'd be keen not to duplicate any work already carried out and ensure that we focus OCEAN on EU regulatory matters – as initially intended for OCEAN and where the most value can be derived from our Association. Let me know what you think about this and if there is more you want OCEAN to do here.

Sound Finances To Meet OCEAN's Objectives

Without sound finances, OCEAN cannot operate effectively and efficiently. So, I am pleased to inform you that most of last year was dedicated to ensuring that we put OCEAN on the road to financial stability and sound finances. This was hard work, and eventually successful. OCEAN is well now placed in 2024 to continue supporting all the core and additional activities I mentioned in this report.

Takeaway and next steps

OCEAN is on the road to updating and modernising our organisation across seven fields. We started the discussion last year after the working group completed its work. We used 2023 for a "reality check" and are now in a much better position to agree on feasible actions that push OCEAN forward. Many concrete actions are already on the way, such as securing sound finance for the future, strengthening our core activities, and embarking on new pathways – such as sustainability. More work and reflection are needed on some ideas, and I welcome our discussion on this matter in May at the OCEAN Board meeting. Please do not hesitate to contact me with more ideas or thoughts.