Matt Damon was wearing another man’s clothes when he arrived at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
Damon fell victim to the perils of air travel, telling a panel hosted by Bloomberg that he was forced to don the duds of his Water.org co-founder Gary White after Swiss Air misplaced his luggage.
“The relationship has developed to the point where I’m wearing Gary’s clothes right now, because Swiss Air lost my bags,” Damon said, when asked about his relationship with White, with whom he co-founded Water.org in 2009. “So we’ve come a long way.”
Baggage mishaps aside, Damon talked about why he has made worldwide access to safe drinking water his primary philanthropic focus.
“It underlines everything,” Damon said. “All these issues of extreme poverty are affected by it. It really touches everything. You can’t solve any of these problems we’re talking about today — gender equality, climate change, all of these things — water touches all of them.”
Clean drinking water wasn’t the only weighty topic on the agenda at the WEF on Tuesday. In the afternoon, former Harvard assistant professor and New York Times bestselling author Amy Cuddy was on a panel about violence against women that also included Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates joined a panel examining how to build improved financial architecture to support global health initiatives.
In addition to Damon, a who’s who of the Boston area’s biggest names in business and education planned to attend the summit. Celtics co-owner and Bain Capital co-chairman Stephen Pagliuca was scheduled to make the trek along with six Bain & Co. leaders, and at least five higher-ups at Boston Consulting Group were on the guest list, including chairman Hans-Paul Bürkner. In the education realm, the forum was expected to welcome at least 10 Harvard-affiliated guests, including Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow. And MIT and Yale had at least seven university-affiliated attendees each on the RSVP list, including Yale president Peter Salovey and MIT president L. Rafael Raif.
Other notables with local ties scheduled to make the trip to Switzerland included chairman, president, and CEO of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company Roger Crandall, Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane, and Iron Mountain president and CEO William Meaney.
One Boston-based businessman making waves at Davos wasn’t even at the summit. Seth Klarman, a billionaire investor who runs the Boston-based Baupost Group and has been called the “Oracle of Boston,” sent a letter to investors — including overseers of Harvard’s and Yale’s endowments — that raises “a huge red flag about global social tensions, rising debt levels and receding American leadership,” according to a Tuesday article from The New York Times. The Times predicted that Klarman’s letter would be the talk of the town, writing that it would “likely to add to the hand-wringing that typically takes place in Davos during a week of panels and conversation over Champagne and canapés.”