Niyati Mehta

Niyati is a consultant on culture, heritage and philanthropy based in Mumbai, India. Her travel to Salzburg, Austria to participate in the seminar ‘Toward a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Philanthropy: Strategies to Address Social, Economic and Historic Inequality‘ organised by Salzburg Global Seminar in December 2019 was supported by the Mobility First! Special Open Call with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 My travel journey took me from the skyscrapers of Mumbai in India to the snow-capped mountains of Salzburg, home to Mozart and ‘The Sound of Music’, in Austria. The Salzburg Global Seminar had organised, ‘Toward a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Philanthropy’, in its beautiful Rocco styled Schloss Leapoldskron. The focus of the seminar was on the value of ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ (DEI) in philanthropy.

Presentations and groups discussions gave me a wider insight into approaches by grant making institutions and partnerships that could accelerate systemic change, and in turn, also be closer aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. I shared my learnings and work in the opening session of ‘What Role can Foundations and Investors play in tackling Social, Economic, and Historical Inequality?’, as well participated as in group discussions and conversations. As my areas of interest includes the intersect between culture, heritage and philanthropy, I was attentive to the DEI challenges faced in other sectors and successful ways wherein it had been adapted and implemented. In the breaks and post the day sessions, it was wonderful to continue the conversations, and make new friends from across the globe. 

The festive sparkle of the Christmas market at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress was a delightful experience as we enjoyed the hot goodies and delicious Christmas treats. It was only when I could feel my ears in the minus four Celsius temperature about to fall off that it was time to sprint back to the Schloss!

The journey was as planned except on the return, when the severe winter morning frost in Salzburg, delayed my travel time by another day and took me across four cities. I was home, a little tired but inspired by the learning and possibilities of enabling DEI in my work, and having new friends across cultures and countries.   

What are some of the most interesting lessons you have learned during your visit?

We have diversity in our everyday lives, and yet, we are quite often unaware or insensitive to the value and need for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the places we live and work and travel, in our community, and our society.

It was very interesting for me to learn about the ways and manners in which DEI permeates not only in our lives but also functions in different spheres, at local, regional and national level. It was an eye opener to learn how and often why DEI is circumvented, with outcomes, not always for the better.

Philanthropy has the power to facilitate DEI through grant making and partnerships to create meaningful change. It is also a powerful circle of influence to create DEI awareness and sensitivity and ensure it can be integrated as an enabler in society.

It was my first time in winter in Austria, and the Christmas market was a memorable experience. It was also a wonderful way of bringing us together, to share moments from our lives and enjoy the camaraderie.


What professional & personal objectives did you achieve in this activity?

I wanted to widen my perspective on philanthropy and DEI, and this platform provided the space to learn and take this learning into the culture, heritage and philanthropy space, wherein I work.

It also highlighted for me the role of culture and its myriad associations with DEI.

At a personal level, the seminar has made me more aware of DEI, and the need to further inculcate it within our lives and work.

The journey was a wonderful and enriching learning experience as it widened my understanding and perspective on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and highlighted the role of philanthropy to enable DEI. It was amazing to engage in conversation and debates within the sector, as well as make new friends from across the globe. The new learnings and bonds of friendship and laughter, the festive sparkles and delights made it a memorable experience.

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"I'm a consultant in the culture, heritage and philanthropic sectors and based in Mumbai in India. My areas of interest are to create new ideas, develop projects and partnerships and build bridges using culture and heritage through philanthropy across geographies. I am interested in India and India related outside of India, in Europe, [the] UK, [and the] US. - I feel culture and heritage brings an intrinsic value not only to our identity but also as global citizens. And it is a very powerful tool to be able to build bridges across cultures, across countries. And I'm inspired by philanthropy because I feel it has immense potential to bring deep and high value impact. And… that intersection between culture, heritage and philanthropy is what interests me, because I think this whole space has fantastic potential and many opportunities, which I hope in the future that we would all be able to optimize. - [It] has been very interesting to understand the different models of philanthropy that are being followed by different foundations, but also in different countries. What are the challenges that are being faced by people that work in the sector but also deal externally [And] it's also space internally within the organizations that we all work within. And how does that… intersect…in conflict with the external space. And again, using philanthropy - the ideas, the concept, the actions within it - to be able to bridge the gaps between these spaces." - Cultural consultant Niyati Mehta on the 2019 Salzburg Global Philanthropy and Social Investment Forum, her work, and what inspires her - #FacesOfLeadership #SGSphil #SalzburgGlobalSeminar #SchlossLeopoldskron

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The Mobility First! Special Open Call with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still on-going!