Laure Waridel

WaridelIn 1997, Laure Waridel, then 24, described the results of a research she did at a Mexican coffee cooperative at the end of her studies at McGill University in a debut essay entitled Une cause café. This book makes her an household name and enables her to successfully launch fair trade in Quebec at a time it wasn’t widely known in North America. She will do the same with the results of her Masters studies on sustainable coffee trade development. Her participation to popular TV shows such as « Tout le monde en parle » and « À la Di Stasio » enables her to teach the concept of sustainable consumption to a large public. According to a reporter, she uses words as means of social and environmental change, something which has an impact on both mind and heart.

She does the same thing through her involvement in Équiterre, an organization she cofounded in 1993. She set up an awareness and action campaign called « Un juste café » and got involved in the development of a community-backed agriculture. Laure has delivered more than 250 speeches in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Senegal and Colombia since then. She also gave many interviews and wrote a lot of articles on sustainable development (chronicles « Acheter c’est voter » in the Radio Canada’s « Indicatif Présent » radio show, Voir, Reader’s Digest, Le Journal de Montréal, to name a few).

Laure is aware that individual and collective decisions bring tremendous changes into society. She therefore founded an organization which identifies solutions which bring people to get involved no matter what their role in society is in addition to discussing environmental, social and economic issues. Équiterre is actually one of the most sought-after Quebec NGO.

A simple Google Scholar search makes us aware that Laure’s researches on fair trade, sustainable consumption and sustainable development made a significant contribution to the scientific debate in fields such as sociology, development studies, geography and management even though they were not done in a formal academic context. Laure’s articles and interventions quickly became references because there was not a lot of scientific literature on fair trade then.

Medias regularly describe Laure as a « visionary » and a « leader ». In 2002, Maclean’s considered her as one of the « 25 young Canadians who are already changing our world » and she was Reader’s Digest’s « Hero of the Year» in 2008. Her leadership was described in a HEC Montreal’s case study and in three textbooks. In 2007, Le Journal de Québec and Le Journal de Montréal listed her as one of Quebec’s 25 most influent political personalities even though she was never formally involved into politics. According to a 2010 survey, she’s one of Quebec’s 25 most trustworthy persons.

Newly appointed executive director of the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en opérationnalisation du développement durable (CIRODD), Laure Waridel is also studying the apparition of an ecological and social economy in Quebec as part of a PhD programme since 2010. She will have completed her thesis at the beginning of the summer of 2015. She is also a fellow at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CÉRIUM) of the University of Montreal.