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Matt Damon On The 'Massive, Complex Problem' He's Working To Solve

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Academy Award winner Matt Damon talked with HuffPost Live at Davos Wednesday about why he co-founded Water.org, a nonprofit organization working to provide communities across the globe with access to clean water.

"As I was looking at all these issues of extreme poverty and wanting to get involved, water seemed to underpin absolutely everything," Damon said. "It's such a massive complex problem. I find it endlessly interesting. I'm constantly learning."

Such passion for the issue remains rare among people living in developed economies, and funding can be difficult, Damon said.

In his view, that's because the problems surrounding a lack of access to clean water, such as dehydration and poor sanitation, aren't easily visible to people living in developed countries like the U.S.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a friend in New York City or Boston or L.A. who's been thirsty in their life -- really, truly thirsty," he said. "It's such a massive problem but it's so hard for us to relate to. To wrap our heads around the enormity of it is very hard and definitely something that we struggle with."

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"We are very fortunate to do what we like to do... so I get a lot of energy out of what I do," Polman said.

"I don't personally believe in work/life balance," Polman said, adding that he hopes to have a happy life balance that includes his work.

"We have to watch what we do, I like to run so I do that every day, and increasingly watch what you eat and maintain your health a little bit," Polman said.

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"I think we have a moral obligation to use what is given to us for the benefit of all," Polman said.

"We have no rights to exclude people," Polman said.

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"I always say when they built the Statue of Liberty on the east coast of the United States, they forgot to build the Statue of Responsibility on the west coast," Polman said.

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"I think people are starting to discover that we really need to move into reaction mode," Polman said.

Polman said the political process has become "incredibly difficult" and is riddled with "poor agreements."

"There is some progress but frankly, not fast enough, and the business community can not wait," Polman said.

"There is more of an urge from responsible business... to drive to action," Polman added.

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"Obviously as the population grows with the changing dietary habits, there is an enormous demand on food," Polman said.

Polman said he's worked to find sustainable solutions to food production.

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Arianna sat down with Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, on HuffPost Live at Davos on Saturday to talk about pressure in business.

"There's a lot of pressure on the short-term," Polman said.

"There's an enormous pressure on the CEO of today," Polman added.

Polman said "the real purpose of business is to serve society," not to cater to the shareholder, but often the latter is what CEOs are focused on because of pressure.

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Smith said he unplugs by getting outside and learning new things by doing things like reading.

"To me, that's a real joy," Smith said.

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Smith said the relationship between business and government has a few different dimensions that usually exist at the same time.

"The government defines the laws and we comply with them," Smith said. "There may be times we think the government goes too far and we challenge them... there are times when we work together. There are times when the government is our customer."

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"Three things are going to need to happen," Smith said when asked about a recovery of trust after the NSA scandal.

Smith said government needs to take steps to restore trust with citizens, and said President Barack Obama's recent speech kicked off that effort. Smith also said companies need to restore trust by taking steps to reassure customers they have privacy.

As for the third step, Smith said "we're going to need a level of international collaboration that goes beyond what we've seen."

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"It helps to step back" Brad Smith said when asked about the NSA scandal, citing conflicts of the past as reasons government has had to "move the needle."

Smith blogged about the topic at HuffPost earlier this week. You can read that here.

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"There is an uneasiness about certain aspects of science, like evolution," Collins said, noting some people have anxiety about issues like creationism versus science.

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Dr. Collins said medicine won't tell people the meaning of life or why we're here.

"I think one needs other means of approaching those," Collins said.

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Dr. Collins said the Pope's approach to health issues has caused "a buzz" and is shining a light on health issues that many may not want to look at.

"There's all kinds of suffering out there," Collins said.

"I think all of us... would like to see the world a better place where people can flourish," Collins said.

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"Now with the combination of technologies and the empowerment of individuals... you can start to individualize the approach each of us can take" to improving health, Dr. Collins said.

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"Technology is driving much of the advances [in medicine]," Dr. Francis Collins said. "But... if we're interested in human health, we've got to be sure the technology doesn't run away with itself."

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"The struggle is not about saving the planet. The planet does not need saving," Naidoo said. "This fight is fundamentally about securing our children and grandchildren's futures."

Naidoo said he may be "naive" for going to Davos and interacting with business leaders on such tough issues, but his aim is just to change one or two minds.

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"To address climate change, I think you actually need to address the power of certain industries... and if you look at the power currently of the oil, coal and gas sectors, it's overwhelmingly powerful," Naidoo said.

"For every member of Congress, there is a minimum of three and up to eight lobbyists" employed by those industries, Naidoo added.

"They've got to understand that nature does not negotiate," Naidoo said in reference to political leaders.

"Speaking truth to power, we are saying what the science is saying," Naidoo added.

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Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace, doubted the efforts of those at Davos on income inequality.

"I don't think there was any serious attempt to address the question of income inequality," Naidoo said.

Naidoo also said the forum's approach to climate change was good, but slightly off the mark. He said the question asked of each problem at Davos was "how do you make incremental improvements without fundamentally changing any of the existing power structures?"

"There's a real denial about how serious of a situation we are in already and how fast we are getting to the brink of disaster," Naidoo said.

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"As long as there are spotlights around, they might as well look at something good," McDonough said of celebrities who focus on important issues.

McDonough had high praise for Brad Pitt, saying he's a "good designer" who genuinely wants to help with his work in New Orleans.

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McDonough gave an update on his work in New Orleans with actor and activist Brad Pitt post-Katrina.

"We're at about 110 [houses] now, we're going to do 150 total, so we're doing pretty well, it's not easy to do this stuff," McDonough said.

McDonough said his favorite stories are of kids who are leaving FEMA trailers with asthma to move into the houses from Pitt and McDonough, and having their health restored.

"It's beautiful," McDonough said.

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"I like to sit in garbage cans, metaphorically," McDonough said while talking about packaging on things like cereal.

McDonough explained how toxins in packaging -- like in the ink on a cereal box -- can hurt soil, so he's working to come up with a better system for returning waste so that it becomes valuable.

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"I think it's time for humans to become tools of the natural world," William McDonough told HuffPost Live.

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Lesser and Woods shared what they do to stay well while so busy with work.

"I find really trying to get sleep makes a difference," Lesser said, noting he's not "sharp" when he's tired. He added that "you have to make some choices" with what you focus on.

Woods said she makes simple choices, like choosing to walk instead of taking a shuttle bus, to feel good while traveling.

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"People want authenticity, they want action and results, and they want actions to match words," Rich Lesser said.

"People have been frustrated with governments not able to deliver the results" to help improve people's lives, Lesser continued.

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"The world is so competitive, and it's so easy to get caught up where you're just trying to emulate the person down the street," Rich Lesser said.

Lesser said successful businesses dominate by being one step ahead.

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Rich Lesser and Wendy Woods of the Boston Consulting Group sat down with HuffPost Live to talk about global health problems.

Woods said "people resource constraints" and the need for new technology can hold back global health development.

"We can solve a lot of the world's problems right now, but there's a lot of tools that we need," Woods said, noting we also need more participation.

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