The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is not in the business of delivering clinical care to people with diabetes; but it is committed to the view that everyone with diabetes should benefit from the best possible care that could be available to them. One foundation of such care is to ensure that it is based on the best possible scientific knowledge. In this Supplement to Diabetes Voice we summarize in non-technical language the evidence base and recommendations of the IDF Global Guideline. Readers interested in the original document should go directly to www.idf.org to view or download it, or to order a paper version. In this first article we describe the approach that was used in developing an evidence-based guideline designed to assist care at different levels of resources.