Laure Waridel

Study program:
Ph.D. Anthropology and Sociology of Development
Current affiliation:
Graduate Institute of International Studies and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Laure is exploring a vision of sustainable development that reconciles ecological, social and economic viability

From Sustainable Development to the Construction of an Ecological and Socially Equitable Economy: The Beginning of a Transition

In the light of current scientific knowledge, it has become imperative to craft a development model that reconciles ecological, social and economic viability. While sustainable development proposals have nourished some important political, economic and legislative initiatives, it seems that the transition toward a truly viable economic order demands a series of more fundamental changes. Does the multiplication of sustainable development initiatives promoted by individuals on a small scale and by civil society organizations, businesses and governments at the local and global level contribute to the development of a new ecological and socially equitable economic paradigm? This is the central question guiding this study, which is intended to contribute to the conceptualization of an "ecological social economy" that is emerging on the ground but still marginal in comparison to the dominant economy and barely represented in the scientific literature.

After finishing her undergraduate degree in sociology and international development studies at McGill University, Laure Waridel published her first essay: Une cause café (English title: Coffee With a Cause). This publication helped kick-start fair trade in Quebec. In the words of a journalist, "she turns words into tools for social and environmental change, touching the head as well as the heart." This is also what she did with Equiterre, a not-for-profit organization that she co-founded in 1993 and continued to run until 2006.

Well aware that individual and collective choices drive societal change, Laure Waridel helped create an organization and many initiatives that not only publicize environmental, social and economic problems but also offer solutions that elicit commitment from people in all walks of society.

While finishing a master's degree in environmental studies under the direction of Michael M'Gonigle at the University of Victoria and pursuing research into globalization, sustainable development, fair trade, ecological agriculture, and responsible consumption, Laure Waridel published several essays and many feature articles, including Acheter c'est voter, le cas du café (To Buy Is To Vote: The Case of Coffee - Prix du public du livre d'affaires HEC/La Presse et Prix Communication et société) and L'envers de l'assiette (The Other Side of the Plate). She made a name for herself on Radio-Canada radio and in several magazines, including the weekly Voir, the Magazine UdeS and Reader's Digest Selection. She taught at the management faculty of McGill University and served as spokesperson for a number of environmental and social organisations.

Frequently acknowledged as a leader and "woman of influence" in the media, Laure was cited by Maclean's magazine as one of "25 young Canadians who are already changing our world." For her social and ecological commitment, she was named to the Cercle des Phénix de l'environnement du Québec and made an honorary member of McGill University's Golden Key Honour Society, as well as being appointed a Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Pléiade by the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. In 2011, Earth Day Canada granted her the "Outstanding Commitment to the Environment Award," and the Université du Québec à Rimouski will granted her an honorary doctorate. In 2013, she was appointed a fellow at the Centre d'études et de recherches internationales de l'Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM) and received the university's order or merit.

  • June 14, 2018
    Congratulations to 2011 Foundation scholar Laure Waridel, who joined forces with class action firm Trudel Johnston & Lespérance on 14 June 2018. As special advisor in social justice and environmental matters, Laure will contribute her expertise and experiences to making Canada a fairer and more environmentally sustainable society.