Debi Goenka is an environmentalist, who started his love affair with the environment in 1974, during his college days, first as a volunteer with the WWF and BNHS. In later years, he has worked with WWF-India, has been elected to the Executive Committee of the BNHS for a number of terms, and has been associated with various other NGOs such as SOCLEEN, BEAG, INTACH, Indian Heritage Society, etc. He has also served on various Committees appointed by the Bombay High Court, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, and the Maharashtra Government.
As the Executive Trustee of Conservation Action Trust, he continues to spearhead the issues regarding the conservation and protection of the environment. He stresses on the role of forests in protecting the water security of the country.
He has pioneered several successful campaigns to protect the natural environment. Some of the most notable success stories have been the protection of mangroves, the protection of the Borivili National Park, and the success in protecting over 3,500 square kilometres of forests in Vidarbha from denotification. He has also been involved in campaigns to prevent the denotification of the Melghat Tiger Sanctuary, for the notification of Dahanu Taluka as an ecologically sensitive area, for the protection of the coastal areas of Murud Janjira, the declaration of the Nandur - Madhameshwar bird sanctuary and the Tungareshwar sanctuary, as well as the campaign against Enron. He has been largely responsible for the CRZ Notification of 1991, as well as the notifications for the protection of Mahableshwar-Panchgani, Matheran and the Kaziranga ESZ (Numaligarh refinery).