Portions of this article are adapted from James R. May & Erin Daly, Global Environmental Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), reprinted with permission of copyright holder and author.


The State of New York’s constitution was perhaps the first in the world to embody environmental constitutionalism, most directly in what is known as its “Forever Wild” mandate from 1894. In contrast to many subnational environmental provisions, courts in New York have regularly enforced Forever Wild. New York’s Constitution also contains a remarkable mandate that every twenty years voters decide whether to hold elections for delegates to convene a convention to amend the state’s constitution, with the next such opportunity on November 7, 2017. This article explores how subnational constitutionalism from around the world informs discussions about whether and how to amend the charter, and has three parts. Part I provides a primer to the field of subnational environmental constitutionalism. Part II explores the opportunities and challenges in enforcing existing subnational environmental provisions. Part III then examines a case study involving language to consider at a constitutional convention for the State of New York.