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Blue Fridays: The IDF’s Lorenzo Piemonte Helps Turn the World Blue

The history of World Diabetes Day

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

This month we’ve enjoyed “What does blue mean to you?” posts from Cherise Shockley, Mike Durbin and Bruce Braughton. Today we wrap things up with a final Blue Friday post featuring Lorenzo Piemonte, World Diabetes Day Coordinator for the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). As coordinator of the event for the past four years, Lorenzo gives us the inside scoop on WDD activities around the world.

Q: What led you to your current position at the IDF and what are your responsibilities?

A: I joined IDF in 2003 and have been involved in various communications projects since then. For the last four years I have been closely involved in coordinating our World Diabetes Day campaign. The campaign is one of the main projects through which we engage our network of more than 200 member associations in 160 plus countries. My other main responsibilities include overseeing our online communications and supporting our Life for a Child humanitarian program.

Q: How have World Diabetes Day activities evolved since you joined IDF?

A: The World Diabetes Day campaign has grown tremendously since it first started in 1991. For many years it was a small scale campaign that mainly engaged our member associations and other stakeholders within the IDF network. The turning point was the passage of United Nations Resolution 61/225 in December 2006, which recognized World Diabetes Day as an official United Nations day. This firmly established the campaign, allowing it to reach a much wider audience than in the years prior.

Thanks to the Resolution, the campaign also acquired a unifying symbol, the blue circle, which has helped it to become more easily recognizable. The popularity of the symbol has exceeded all our expectations and has helped us to achieve one of our main goals: a unified campaign throughout the world with the diabetes community, other aligned organizations and individuals rallying behind our key messages and calls to action. More than ever before, we have also been able to engage people outside of the diabetes community. World Diabetes Day has truly become a powerful display of unity around a common cause.

Lorenzo Piemonte of International Diabetes Federation
Lorenzo Piemonte

Q: What World Diabetes Day activities were you most excited about in 2012?

A: This year we launched the ‘Pin a Personality’ campaign, a new initiative to raise recognition of the World Diabetes Day blue circle logo among a mainstream audience. We asked the diabetes community to identify well-known individuals and take a picture of them wearing the blue circle pin to show their support for the diabetes cause. Since its launch in April, we’ve seen the campaign truly grab the interest of our supporters and requests have been streaming in for blue circle pins. More than 300 personalities from around the world are currently displayed in our online gallery and there will be many more to come.

Another exciting activity was the Blue Monument Challenge which we launched in 2007. This has traditionally been one of the main vehicles to get blue recognized as the color of diabetes. Since 2007, more than 1,000 monuments and buildings in 80 countries have gone blue for diabetes.

In recent years, IDF has chosen one country annually to be the focus of its World Diabetes Day celebrations. Last year we went to China. This year our leadership and representatives from the IDF office went to India for two weeks of awareness activities. India is the country with the second largest population of people with diabetes, putting them at the forefront of the diabetes epidemic. Therefore, it was very important to support local efforts to raise awareness of the extent of the problem in the country. Partnering with various local partners, IDF sponsored activities such as a country-wide diabetes screening drive and the lighting of more than 30 landmark monuments in blue across the country.

Q: What did you do for World Diabetes Day this year?

A: I was in Brussels where I took part in the events organized by our European regional office at the European Parliament. While several activities were aimed at engaging members of the Parliament and staff, we also had some fun activities for the general public.

Q: What does blue mean to you?

A: The color blue for me represents the inspiring efforts made by dedicated people around the world to make a positive difference for the lives of people living with diabetes. It also promotes the simple actions that people can try and do to help prevent the further spread of the epidemic. As a person who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 18 years, blue is also a way that I can show diabetes is not a curse and shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving what they desire.

With good reason, Lorenzo had a busy World Diabetes Day, just as we did here at Sanofi US! I appreciate learning about the global impact of the awareness day and all that the IDF does to improve the lives of those living with diabetes. My thanks to Lorenzo for taking time to give us the inside scoop into how World Diabetes Day has grown and flourished over the years.

Happy Blue Friday,

Laura K.

Disclosure: Lorenzo Piemonte received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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