Nora McKeon studied history at Harvard and political science at the Sorbonne before joining the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. She held positions of increasing responsibility there, culminating in overall direction of the FAO’s relations with civil society.
A major area of her work over the years was strengthening civil society/social movement participation in field programmes and in policy dialogue at all levels, with particular attention to organizations of small food producers (peasant farmers, artisanal fisherfolk, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples, etc.) as the mandated representatives of those most affected by food insecurity and poverty yet most distant from decision-making mechanisms.
She now divides her time between research and activism around food systems, peasant farmer movements and UN-civil society relations. She coordinates a program of exchange and advocacy with African and European small farmers’ organizations and is closely involved in the current reform of global food governance.
Recent publications include: Peasant Organizations in Theory and Practice (with Michael Watts and Wendy Wolford, UNRISD 2004), Strengthening Dialogue with People’s Movements: UN experience with small farmer platforms and Indigenous Peoples (with Carol Kalafatic, UN NGLS 2009) and The United Nations and Civil Society: Legitimating Global Governance-Whose Voice? (Zed 2009).
When asked why she joined the Building Global Democracy Programme and what her aspirations for the programme were, Nora said:
"She is very interested in exchanging with other participants in the BGD programme who are familiar with the empowerment strategies of other structurally disadvantaged groups."