Global climate change has far-reaching effects on land, waters and the atmosphere, increasing risk for natural disasters. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides can all create humanitarian crises. The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme coordinated and managed by the EC addressed six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security. A large European consortium focused on the Emergency Response Core Service of the GMES initiated the EU-funded 'Services and applications for emergency response' (SAFER) project. SAFER had two main objectives whose achievement reinforced Europe's capacity to respond to emergency crisis situations. The first was to enhance immediate response to crisis with rapid mapping after disastrous events and relevant preparatory services. Validation included full-scale service utilisation during real events or during planned exercises. The second was to extend services covering longer term periods before and after crisis events with added value products of risk-specific information. Products consisted primarily of meteorological and geophysical risks. SAFER's second year of funding witnessed 50 emergency exercises with increased responsiveness. The consortium also executed more than 50 emergency support activities related to preparedness/prevention and recovery. Scientists agreed on formal cooperation guidelines with the international charter 'Space and Major Disasters' and with the GMES Services for Management of Operations, Situation Awareness and Intelligence for Regional Crises (G-MOSAIC). The former managed delivery of information from imaging satellites and other space resources in response to disasters. The latter was a GMES Security Core Service. The final project year consisted of refining and optimising the operational services with extensive user feedback. And refined the service evolution process to pave the way for new thematic services.