U.S. actor Matt Damon received an award at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday night (January 21) in his capacity as co-founder of water.org.

The American non-profit organisation is "committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in the developing world," according to the organisation which Damon co-founded in 2009.

In his speech at a ceremony honouring him and three other artists, Damon jokingly thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for "the big honour."

"This is the Golden Globe speech I never got to give," Damon said to laughter from the audience.

On a more serious note, Damon asked the audience of the world's political and business elite to "get on board."

"Access to water, fundamental as that is, is not an end in itself. Access to water is access to education, access to work, access above all to the kind of future we want for our own families and all the members of our human family."

The annual Crystal Award ceremony traditionally marks the opening of the WEF and is hosted by Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and wife of WEF founder Klaus Schwab.

Other recipients of this year's awards were Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez and Munich Philharmonic conductor Lorin Maazel.

The Crystal Awards "honour artists whose important contributions are improving the state of the world," according to the WEF.

Presented by Adam Justice